UK Civil Partnerships recognised in Spain

Breakthrough in international recognition, call for common EU policy to recognise civil partners in all member states

December 14, 2007

Paul and Martin Ward
LONDON & MADRID — "The Spanish government has, for the first time, recognised UK same-sex civil partnerships," said gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

"This is a big breakthrough in securing overseas recognition and rights for British lesbian and gay civil partners. Up to now, civil partnerships are mostly unrecognised abroad.

"This creates huge legal problems for UK lesbian and gay civil partners who travel, work or retire abroad. They are treated as two single people, with neither rights nor responsibilities.

"Up to now, the Spanish government has dismissed civil partnerships as a uniquely British institution, with no international validity. It has refused to give any legal rights to UK same-sex civil partners who have settled in Spain; viewing civil partnerships as inferior to civil marriage and unworthy of recognition.

"Spain's decision to recognise UK civil partnerships is the result of months of lobbying by two UK civil partners who now live in Spain, Paul and Martin Ward. They fought and won this concession," said Mr Tatchell.

"This is a great step forward for lesbian and gay civil partners," said Paul Ward.

"We are both delighted with this positive outcome and we are glad that we have achieved this result for others, as well as for ourselves," he said.

Mr Tatchell concurs:

"This is a significant step forward in securing international acknowledgement and rights for lesbian and gay civil partners," he said.

"I hope the new Spanish ruling will prompt other countries to follow suit and, in particular, that the EU will agree to adopt a common policy of recognising civil partnerships throughout all member states," said Mr Tatchell.

Statement by Paul and Martin Ward:

"In December of 2006 we contacted our local authority in the UK, Devon County Hall, and were advised that a UK same-sex civil partnership would be recognised in Spain.

"We became civil partners on Valentines Day of 2007. See Paul and Martin�s Wedding

"At the time, Paul lived in Spain and both of us returned to Spain to start our new life together.

"After contacting the British Consul in Malaga we were distraught to discover our civil partnership was not recognised in Spain, leaving us in a situation of now your married, now your not, with no legal rights.

"We both decided to fight for our partnership to be recognised here in Spain, in the same way that Spain recognises a UK heterosexual marriage and the UK recognises a Spanish gay marriage.

"We have had long, protracted battled with Denise Holt the UK Ambassador to Spain, Michael Holloway the UK Consul General in Madrid, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband MP.

"Throughout or struggle for the recognition of our civil partnership we had the support of Michael Cashman MEP, Glenys Kinnock, MEP and gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

"On the 16 August this year, David Miliband the UK Foreign Secretary had a meeting with the Ministry of Justice in Spain, where he discussed our case.

"We were subsequently advised by the British consul that the UK Embassy in Madrid, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on London and Spanish Ministry of Justice were negotiating a decision on Spanish recognition of UK same-sex civil partnerships.

"The eventual result was that Spain did, indeed, agree to recognise the civil partnerships of UK lesbian and gay couples.

"We visited the British Consul on 29 November to change our status in our passports.

"We have made a little bit of history by becoming the first UK same-sex couple resident in Spain to have their civil partnership acknowledged in law and in the observations section of our passports.

"This is a great step forward for lesbian and gay civil partners.

"We are both delighted with this positive outcome and we are glad that we have achieved this result for others, as well as for ourselves." – Issued by OutRage!

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