Gay couple plan legal action to challenge marriage ban

Image caption,
Reverend Sharon Ferguson, left, said it was part of her daily life to challenge discrimination

A couple plan to take legal action to challenge the UK's ban on gay marriage and heterosexual civil partnerships.

Sharon Ferguson and Franka Strietzel were refused a civil marriage licence for Greenwich Town Hall, south-east London, and now plan to go to court for the right to obtain one.

Seven other couples are expected to launch similar actions.

Their campaign has been coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he wanted equality for all.

Marriage and civil partnerships should be "open to all couples - gay and straight", he said.

Reverend Ferguson, who is a pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of North London in Camden, said they were "recognising and celebrating that we love each other and want to make a commitment to each other for life".

"My whole life is about campaigning for equality and justice as a pastor in a parish that is known for its social justice work," she added.

"It's part of my daily life to challenge discrimination, but with this campaign what is really nice is that it's about love."

Denying couples 'wrong'

Four homosexual and four heterosexual couples are uniting for the attempt to overturn the law.

Only heterosexual couples can marry in the UK.

And only same-sex couples can agree to a civil partnership - a legally recognised union which offers equal legal treatment in matters such of inheritances and next-of-kin arrangements.

"Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to end," Mr Tatchell said.

"In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law."

The campaign will be represented in court next year by Robert Wintemute, a professor of human rights law at King's College London.

A spokesman for the Government Equalities Office said: "We are currently considering the next steps for civil partnerships.

"Earlier this year, ministers met with people and organisations holding a range of views on the issue, and we are now looking at the best way to take those views forward."

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