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Why is There No Such Thing As Gay Adultery in the UK

A woman is campaigning for a change in the law after she was unable to divorce her husband of 20 years on grounds of adultery as he only had affairs with men.

Under the UK, law adultery does not count if the person has had sex with a member of the same sex. The woman, who spoke on BBC Radio 4 while hiding her identity attempted to obtain a divorce citing adultery but was informed by her lawyer that she was unable to. She was instead forced to cite unreasonable behaviour as the reason for divorce with adultery not being an option as he only had affairs with the same member of sex.

Although she opted to divorce him under unreasonable behaviour and that such a citation did not affect the financial outcome when separating she is still attempting to reform the law as she is in the minority of people who: "care hugely about the betrayal and want to know that somebody somewhere has recognised that".

Divorce Must Adapt to Modern Life

The woman is campaigning for a change in the law to ensure that divorce law is brought into the 21st century. Speaking to the BBC she said that there was no shame in being gay, but stated that it was important that people who are do not lie to themselves and other people. She feels it's time the law grew up about what sexual intimacy means in the 21st Century.

Case law defines adultery as "voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other but one or both of whom is or are married.” According to a legal expert, however, this adultery must involve "sexual intercourse must involve penetration of the woman's vagina by the man's penis, however slight." Although grounds for divorce differ in both England and Scotland, the definition of adultery remains the same.

While there is much publicity about the incident and many people and organisations calling for a change in the law,  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. The group found that the adultery law did not need to be changed and that unreasonable behaviour was deemed a worthy enough reason.

Grounds for Divorce

In Scotland, there are four grounds for divorce, adultery, Unreasonable Behaviour, two years separation with the consent of both partners and five years separation without the consent. While you can apply for a simplified divorce, this can only be done if you have no children under 16 and no major financial matters. Unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason for divorce with any behaviour deemed by one person of the marriage being a reason for divorce.

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