Sibling couples - Rebuking the Government

In a Lords debate on 1 February, Alistair Lexden returned briefly to an issue on which he has spoken out strongly in recent months, most notably in speeches on 18 January this year and on 20 July 2018 (see below).

He said: “It is clear that the Government have no intention of extending civil partnerships in the way I would wish[to sibling couples]. Committed, platonic sibling couples, some of whom have shared their lives for 50 years and more, look on with astonishment and anger as a political party that ought to value the family units they have created together does nothing to relieve them from the constant anxieties they endure in the absence of joint legal rights.”

The cross-bench peer, Baroness Deech, who has called repeatedly for an end to this injustice, added: “I hope the Government will treat them fairly one day, if not today.”

After the passage of a Private Member’s Bill which is now before Parliament, all those who now have the right to marry—opposite and same-sex couples—will be able to form civil partnerships instead, if that is their wish. But civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 for the express purpose of conferring vital legal rights on couples who were not able to marry. Nevertheless, civil partnerships will continue to be withheld from the one group who will always remain unentitled to marry. How ironical that we should end up casting aside the original principle on which civil partnerships were based, thereby perpetuating discrimination against thousands of couples who most need and deserve the legal rights that civil partnerships provide.

The campaign to secure justice for sibling couples will continue.