Law and Sexuality

A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests

GSL Seminar: Comparative Perspectives on the Future of Civil Partnerships

AndrewhaywardsmallI’m delighted to announce the the Gender, Sexuality and Law Research Group at Northumbria University will once again be running a research seminar series over the 15/16 academic year.

Our first event takes place on Monday 16th November at 3pm in CCE1-224C.  The seminar will be finished for 4pm.  All welcome!  Please RSVP to Alexander Maine

Dr Andy Hayward (Durham Law School) will be talking on Comparative Perspectives on the Future of Civil Partnerships


“The introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales provokes fundamental questions as to the hierarchies and structures of adult interpersonal relationships. More specifically, it generates multiple questions as to the continuing function and future of an existing registration structure for same-sex relationships, the civil partnership. The Department for Media, Culture and Sport conducted a review on civil partnerships in 2014 that attempted to answer some of these questions. Of the 10,000 consultation responses provided, less than a third of respondents supported abolition of civil partnership. In terms of the dual operation of the civil partnership alongside same-sex marriage, the majority of respondents were against closing civil partnership to new same-sex couples, however over three-quarters were against opening up civil partnership to opposite-sex couples. Owing to a lack of consensus, the DMCS decided to take no further action until more statistical data was available on the uptake of civil partnerships now same-sex marriage was permitted.
This paper challenges the somewhat superficial and laconic consultation findings and criticises the approach of the DCMS on two grounds. Firstly, one source that was absent in the consultation was comparative family law research. Several jurisdictions have already transitioned from the position of operating a partnership scheme to one of permitting same-sex marriage. In these jurisdictions, registered partnerships were introduced either as a functional equivalent to marriage for same-sex couples or as an alternative to marriage open to all couples. Secondly, another dimension absent in the consultation was the developing jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Whilst obviously a right to marry for same-sex couples is not yet recognised by the Convention, the court is beginning to delimit the boundaries between relationship forms and may in the future take a robust approach to Member States drawing discriminatory distinctions based on sexual orientation. This paper will argue that several key insights garnered from other jurisdictions coupled with the Strasbourg jurisprudence are essential, yet currently overlooked, points of reference when evaluating the future role of the civil partnership in England and Wales.” 


Andy joined Durham Law School in 2009 as a lecturer and academic researcher. Andy has a doctorate entitled ‘Judicial Discretion in Ownership Disputes over the Family Home’ (supervised by Professor Lorna Fox-O’Mahony). The thesis was examined by Professor Elizabeth Cooke (Law Commissioner for England and Wales responsible for the Property, Family and Trust Law Team) and Professor Nicholas Hopkins, both at the University of Reading. According to the examiners, the thesis provided a ‘scholarly, careful and fresh analysis’ of the function and structure of judicial discretion deployed within the context of ownership disputes over the family home. Andy also holds first class degrees from the University of Durham (LLB (ELS) involving an ERASMUS year at the bilingual University of Fribourg in Switzerland) and the University of Cambridge (LLM). He has completed the Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice (PGCAP). 

In Epiphany term 2015, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge and Bye-Fellow at Robinson College, Cambridge. 

Andy’s research focuses on the historical and modern regulation of adult relationships. In particular, he is interested in the property consequences generated by formalised (marriage and civil partnership) and non-formalised (cohabitation and home-sharing) relationships. His work in this area on ‘family property’ explores the process of ‘familialisation of property law’ and how the concept of family property finds expression in ownership disputes over the family home. He is also interested in the historical development of the common intention constructive trust.

In addition, Andy is currently researching the reform of registered partnerships from a domestic and comparative family law perspective. He co-organised a major international family law conference in July 2015 (with Dr Jens M. Scherpe from the University of Cambridge). This project brought together leading experts, policy-makers and practitioners from over 15 jurisdictions with a view to interrogating the future of registered partnerships. Further details of this project are available here 

Claire McCann will be in touch later in the academic year about our other seminars via our contact list and I’ll post details on this blog. Please do pass on the details to your contacts/networks.

You can find out more about the GSL RIG here:


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This entry was posted on October 27, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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