anniversary unmarried partners concession

Philip and Augusto – 25th anniversary since the first positive recognition of same sex relationships in the UK

“Around 1993, I was living in London and working in the travel business. I was enjoying what London had to offer at that time. I met my partner, Augusto, in a club, and 30 years later, we are still together.

Augusto is from Colombia, and eventually he had to go back. We were concerned about how we would go about seeing how he could stay here for longer. I remember going to see Wesley Gryk in the summer of 1993. He said that the issue at the moment was that he (Augusto) was not in the country, so there was nothing we could do until he was back in the UK.

Augusto came back to the UK in Christmas, over the next year we started to consider how we could legalise his position, so we made contact with the Stonewall Immigration Group. Wesley Gryk told us that there was nothing within the [immigration] rules that enabled us to apply for residency based on our relationship. But he suggested we make the application (along with other couples) as opposite sex partners, and to see what happens. This was pushing the Home Office boundaries, and they kept pushing back. In early 1996 we had a call from Wesley saying that Augusto had been summoned to an interview under caution by the immigration service. At the conclusion of the interview Augusto was informed they were going to remove him from the country. Some months later we went to a Judicial Review on paper, a Judge considered our papers and we lost. To overcome this situation we had to go through another Judicial Review hearing in front of a judge. This time, there was a cost attached to the hearing. Our lawyer suggested that we applied for legal aid as Augusto wasn’t working. Interestingly we got turned down from legal aid because as a couple we had too much money. They told us that they didn’t believe we were a couple, and didn’t recognise us as such under immigration rules – yet the legal aid department were telling us they looked at our income as a couple. We found the money to pay for the hearing, and the day before the hearing the Home Office backed down and withdrew the application to have Augusto removed.

The Home office returned Augusto’s passport to allow him to travel to Colombia to see his ageing father, on his return to the UK immigration officer put an indefinite leave to remain stamp in his passport. There were further conversations and solicitors letters with the Home Office about this until finally at end of 1996, he got confirmation that he had been granted indefinite leave to remain.

The Unmarried Partners Concession was hugely significant both for us and the wider LGBTQI+ community. It was thanks to constant chiselling away the Home Office, that we could eventually persuade them. It was a very hard battle. We shouldn’t assume it couldn’t be taken away. Particularly at this current time.

We never thought about giving up the fight, there was no other solution. What else could we do? There are people all over the world that would like to have the opportunity, we were safe and not overly persecuted but we were treated unequally, which I suppose is a form of persecution.

We never thought about giving up the fight, there was no other solution.

It should be seen as a stepping stone and a broader societal gain. I’m not saying that further changes in legislation  [Civil Partnership Act in 2004, Equal Marriage Act 2013] wouldn’t have happened, but they would have been slower.

We felt like we had a voice and we wanted our voice to be heard and we were going to make sure that happened. That’s not the case for everybody, not everybody can find the allies that we found at that time with Wesley and the Stonewall Immigration Group”.