• Catherine Utley

"Siblings look on with astonishment and anger" says peer

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

1 February 2019

The Conservative MP, Tim Loughton,'s Bill, which would extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples whilst still denying them to platonic ones, passed its committee stage in the House of Lords on 1 February and is now well on the way to becoming law.

The government had already made it clear that it did not intend to include siblings in the measure. Had it done so, many brothers and sisters who live together long-term as adults would have been given access to joint legal rights, sparing much anxiety and the particular heartache of losing their joint home to inheritance tax on the first death.

Lord Lexden, the current main champion of the cause of rights for cohabiting siblings in the House of Lords, again spoke up for them during the committee proceedings of Tim Loughton's bill. "I simply say this to the government", Lord Lexden said. "Committed, platonic sibling couples, some of whom have shared their lives for 50 years and more, look on with astonishment and anger as a political party that ought to value the family units they have created together does nothing to relieve them from the constant anxieties they endure in the absence of joint legal rights".

Lord Lexden was supported by Baroness Deech, a long-time campaigner for rights for cohabiting family members.

Tim Loughton's opposite sex couples bill is sponsored in the House of Lords by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger. You can read the proceedings here.

After the committee stage proceedings, Lord Lexden wrote on his website: "Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 for the express purpose of conferring vital legal rights on couples who were not able to marry. Nevertheless, civil partnerships will continue to be withheld from the one group who will always remain unentitled to marry. How ironical that we should end up casting aside the original principle on which civil partnerships were based, thereby perpetuating discrimination against thousands of couples who most need and deserve the legal rights that civil partnerships provide".