• Catherine Utley

Conservative MP speaks out for cohabiting siblings

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

2 October 2018

Conservative MP, Edward Leigh

The Conservative MP, Sir Edward Leigh, has been hounded on Twitter for asking why siblings should not be allowed to enter civil partnerships. Sir Edward was responding to Theresa May's announcement that heterosexual couples will soon be allowed to enter into civil partnerships for the first time if they do not wish to get married. Sir Edward's tweet, on 2 October: “mixed-sex civil partnerships to be legalised; why not for siblings too?” was greeted with an avalanche of outraged responses, with most of the more than 1,300 replies suggesting he was advocating incest. In fact Sir Edward's point is one he has made many times in parliament over the years: that the rights that the government insists are inextricably linked to civil partnership - especially the deferral of inheritance tax until after the second death - are of no less importance to those who live together long term in a platonic relationship than to those whose bond is assumed to be sexual. Catherine Utley of Family Ties Matter, said: "We are grateful to Sir Edward for highlighting the injustice and consider it is a sad reflection on society that he has been so misunderstood. There is no reason why eligibility for civil partnerships should be based on the presumption of a sexual relationship and if the government continues to insist that it must be, then it must lay out by what other means it intends to address the discrimination against cohabiting family members who have no other way of securing essential rights and safeguards".