Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth lesbian couple fight gay marriage ban

A lesbian couple have been turned away from a registry office after attempting to apply for a marriage licence.

Colette French and Katie Green, both 21, of Portsmouth, attended Petersfield Register office earlier.

The couple carried out the move in a challenge to the UK's legal ban on same-sex marriage. Ms French described the rejection as "upsetting".

Gay couples have been able to have civil partnerships since December 2005 but remain banned from getting married.

Ms French and Ms Green are being supported by campaign group Equal Love, which opposes the ban on gay marriage and straight civil partnerships.

'Not religious'

The couple said they would take their letter of rejection to their lawyer with a view to challenging the ban in court.

They are among eight couples taking their case to the courts, arguing that UK law discriminates against gay people.

Ms Green, a Portsmouth University student, said: "In a democratic institution should be open to all and we feel that we are entitled to access the institution of civil marriage.

"Colette and I would personally like a civil marriage, although it would secure our relationship it is the ultimate recognition of a person's love and commitment and we feel that we are entitled to this."

The rejection was "part of the progress to challenge the segregation legally", she added.

The campaign, co-ordinated by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, said it was not about religion.

A spokesperson said: "Civil partnerships are recognised by no other country in the world but everyone knows that marriage is the universal gold standard of love and commitment.

"Many lesbian and gay couples feel that they want to be part of this universally-recognised institution in order to celebrate and affirm their love for each other."

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