The right to marry explained in 2 minutes!

[Text on screen]: The Right to Marry. Article 12 of the Human Rights Act.

We all have a right to marry and to start a family.

What does the Human Rights Act officially say?

“Men and women of a marriageable age have the right to marry.”

But what exactly does it mean?

Basically, we are free to marry whomever we choose, whether that be heterosexual or same-sex marriage, the right to marry is open to all across the UK. This extends to transgender people under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and Same Sex Couples Act 2013.

However, the right to marry is still subject to laws on age and consent.

But where does it come from?

In 1998 the Human Rights Act protected the right to marry in English law for the first time. Same sex marriages began in England and Wales on March 29th, 2014. For Scotland, same sex marriage became legal on December 16th, 2014. And in Northern Ireland, same sex marriage was legalised on January 13th, 2020.

Here are three key examples of what it does for us:

1. We have a right to remarry. (F v Switzerland, 1987)
2. Transgender people can marry a partner of the opposite gender. (Goodwin case, 2002)
3. Restrictions on marriage must be proportionate (O’Donoghue case, 2011)

Gay, straight or transgender, we all have a right to marry who we want.

Learn more about your rights at

The right to marry explained in 2 minutes!

Published on 22 Feb 2022

This video is about Article 12 of the Human Rights Act (HRA), which is the right to marry. This right protects everyone’s right to marry at a consensual age and ensures that any restriction to this right must be reasonable.

The HRA is central to ensuring we can all live a safe and secure life. It sets out a range of principles that the government, and public bodies, must follow and uphold for all of us. If they fail to follow them, we have the ability to take our case to a UK court and, if our rights have been violated, we may be fairly compensated. The Human Rights Act has given us the ability to stand up to those in power.

But the Human Rights Act is under threat.

The government has announced plans to reform the HRA into a new British Bill of Rights, which lawyers and campaigners are concerned will shift more power in favour of the government, and weaken the protections we have available to us. We need to ensure that human rights are accessible and available for everyone, but we may risk losing those protections if the government’s reform comes into effect.

This video is part of a wider series showcasing the protections the HRA provides us and why they are so important in our daily lives. We’ve also curated a week of written content surrounding the proposed reform of the HRA so that you can stay informed and up to date on the latest developments.

Want to learn more? Head on over to our spotlight to read more on the proposals to the HRA. You can find more videos in this HRA series in our YouTube playlist. 

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