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Dr. Robert Wintemute
Professor of Human Rights, School of Law, King's College London
Marriage vs. Registered Partnership: Full Equality Or Segregation For Same-Sex Couples
Today, in the European Union, discrimination in the criminal law against sexual activity between men or between women is not permitted, thanks to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, including the landmark age of consent cases brought by Rechtskomitee Lambda.1 National legislation must ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private sector employment and higher education, thanks to a European Community directive. The focus of groups working for full legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals has therefore shifted to the rights of same-sex couples, including equal access to marriage and joint adoption of children. This topic raises four questions I would like to address: Is there an historical trend towards full equality in every country? Are there any strong arguments against allowing same-sex couples to marry? Is registered partnership enough to provide full equality? And (iv) is registered partnership a necessary intermediate step towards full equality?