Civil partnerships: A happy ever after for gay equality?

Peter Tatchell

With the advent of civil partnerships, have all the debates now been won when it comes to same-sex rights? Or are there still political, social and religious obstacles en route to equality?

These are the questions that will be highlighted in a lively panel discussion featuring gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and campaigner Simon Fanshawe at Brighton Dome on Wednesday 15 June 2011 - and there's a chance for the audience to join in with questions and opinions of their own.

Entitled What Difference Have Civil Partnerships Made?, the debate is the third in the highly popular Sussex Salon series, organised by the University of Sussex School of Law, Politics and Sociology, in association with Brighton Dome.

The expert panel, which includes University academics who are leaders in the fields of law, politics and sociology, will discuss same-sex issues, from partners and parenting to UK policy. The panellists are:

  • Gay rights activist, campaigner and writer Peter Tatchell. He has been campaigning for human rights for over 40 years, on issues of democracy, civil liberties, social equality, environmental protection, peace and global justice. The University of Sussex made Mr Tatchell an honorary Doctor of Letters at the 2010 Summer Graduation in July.
  • Writer, broadcaster and campaigner Simon Fanshawe was a law student at Sussex from 1975-78 and is now chairman of Council - the University's governing body. He writes for a number of national papers and magazines, is a leading champion of diversity and has been active in gay rights for 30 years.
  • Dr Ben Fincham is a Lecturer in Sociology and an academic within the University's Centre for Gender Studies, whose principal research areas include the relationship between work and mental health and gender, suicide and death;
  • Craig Lind is a Senior Lecturer in Law and a member of the University's Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence. Research interests include family law, sexual identity in different cultures and fatherhood, particularly in the context of the regulation of assisted reproduction;
  • Dr Katherine Johnson, lecturer in Psychology at the University of Brighton, whose interests include gender issues and sexuality.

Last month's event, when Brighton MP Caroline Lucas joined the discussion on politics in the coalition era, was sold out, so the advice is to book tickets now to avoid disappointment, as it is possible  that there will not be any tickets on the door.

The Sussex Salon Series of round-table discussions offer an alternative evening out.  The ticket price includes the cost of one drink and audience members will be invited to register their views using an electronic voting system.

The aim is to highlight research at the University that engages with contemporary issues in a way that will appeal to a wide audience.

The practice of debating intellectual matters in public places such as coffee shops was a part of everyday life in 18th-century Europe. Such events were were known as "salons", hence the title of this university series.

University of Sussex sociologist Dr Ruth Woodfield has organised the salon events, which showcase the combined expertise of academics in the University's School of Law, Politics and Sociology. Dr Woodfield says: "We are delighted to be working with the Dome on this venture.

This will provide an exciting opportunity for us all to share expertise and experience in a relaxed environment."

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, says: "The Sussex Salon Series forms an exciting new strand of our autumn season, where some of the hottest topics will be debated by expert panelists.

"This is a great opportunity for our audience to engage and participate in current debates, and we're delighted to be working with the University of Sussex for these events."

Notes for Editors


The Sussex Salon debate - What Difference Have Civil Partnerships Made? - takes place on Wednesday 15 June 2011 at 8pm in the Pavilion Theatre, New Road, Brighton. Tickets are £6 (£4 concession). Price includes a free drink.  You can book tickets online or by calling the Dome box office on 01273 709 709. PLEASE BOOK IN ADVANCE TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.

The Sussex Salon series is organised by the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex in association with BrightonDome.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

Last updated: Monday, 13 June 2011