Last month, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle applied for a civil partnership at Islington Town Hall. But Islington council refused their application as it's only allowed to process civil partnerships for same-sex couples.
The couple told the Islington Gazette they do not agree with marriage because it's an "apartheid" that segregates straight and gay people.
While they want the same legal rights as any husband and wife, they do not want to be seen to be "colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriage."
The couple are now considering legal action to force Parliament to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
They have already won the backing of human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who agrees the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships is "heterophobic, discriminatory and offensive." "I want to see it ended so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership," he added.
"We're the first straight couple in the country who have tried to get a civil partnership," said Mr. Freeman. "We've been together for almost four years, we're totally committed to each other, and we feel the only course of action is to campaign for desegregation."
Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, gay civil partners share the same rights and responsibilities as married heterosexuals, i.e.:
- entitlement to inheritance tax exemptions, social security and pension benefits;
- full life insurance recognition;
- property rights;
- child contact and custody rights;
- next-of-kin rights in hospitals;
- responsibility to provide reasonable child and spousal maintenance.
Moreover, there is a formal process for dissolving civil partnerships much akin to divorce.