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Adultery and same-sex relationships

iPM programme focuses on debate about ‘inequality’ in divorce grounds

The iPM programme on Radio 4 on 1st August featured the case of a woman who was unable to divorce her husband on the grounds of adultery because he had affairs with men which did not constitute adultery. She was calling for a change in the law so that it accurately reflected 'sexual intimacy in the 21st Century'.

It was noted that same-sex couples can either marry under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 or opt for a civil partnership. In civil partnerships there is no ground for adultery. Adultery can be grounds for divorce in same-sex marriage but the infidelity must involve members of the opposite sex.

The programme reported that the Peter Tatchell Foundation said that while it feels adultery is an antiquated aspect of the marriage laws, "nevertheless, this differential in the law governing same-sex and opposite-sex married couples is not equality".

However, The Equality Network, a Scottish gay rights group, held focus groups with their members when the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 was being debated, and they did not feel the law on adultery needed to change. 

Unreasonable behaviour was considered to be sufficient grounds.

The programme can be heard here. For more about this issue, please click here.