Legal challenge to begin as final couple are refused civil partnership

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Gay rights campaigners are preparing to launch legal action after the last of eight couples to challenge the UK’s marriage laws were turned away from a registry office today.

The Equal Love campaign aims to overturn the bans on gay marriage and straight civil partnerships.

Lucy Hilken and Tim Garrett applied for a civil partnership in Aldershot but clerks rejected them, citing UK law.

In the last two months, four gay couples and four straight couples have applied for – and been denied – ceremonies they are not entitled to.

They now plan to challenge the law in court.

Mr Garrett, 31, said: “We hope Britain will soon join other civilised, liberal democracies such as South Africa and the Netherlands, by casting off this unpleasant and offensive form of segregation. Allowing civil partnerships only to gay people and civil marriages only to straight people is unjust discrimination.”

Ms Hilken added: “We have been refused a civil partnership on unfair and discriminatory grounds. We are now are going to pursue this matter in the courts.”

Campaign organiser Peter Tatchell said a press conference would be held next Tuesday and that further details about the next steps would be released later this week.

The couples are being advised by Robert Wintemute, professor of human rights law at Kings College London.

Prof Wintemute says that the twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life) of the Human Rights Act.