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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 14:51 GMT
Transsexual wins right to appeal
Elizabeth Bellinger and Michael Bellinger
Elizabeth 'married' Michael Bellinger in 1981
A transsexual has won the right to appeal against a court ruling that declared her 20-year marriage invalid.

Elizabeth Bellinger took her case to the House of Lords after both the High Court and Court of Appeal decided that her marriage was void.

Now three Law Lords have given the 55-year-old permission to appeal against these rulings.

The male to female transsexual has argued that the decision to refuse a declaration of validity was based on out-dated thinking.

A date for an appeal has not yet been fixed.

Marriage 'void'

Three Court of Appeal judges upheld a ruling by a High Court judge in November last year that her marriage was void.

Elizabeth Bellinger
Mrs Bellinger wants her marriage recognised
She had petitioned the High Court for legal recognition of her marriage to husband Michael.

She went through a sex change operation in 1981 and, as Elizabeth, married Michael Bellinger in the same year.

Mrs Bellinger said after the ruling that she was disappointed that an "opportunity to correct a great injustice for a lot of people" had not been taken.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the Family Division, said that the case highlighted a "human problem".

The court was "very much aware of the plight of those who, like the appellant, are locked into the medical condition of transsexualism".

Reform calls

But she said that as the law now stood, Mrs Bellinger could not be recognised as a female and therefore her marriage to her husband, Michael, was invalid.

The ruling was by a majority of two to one.

Laura Cox QC, representing Mrs Bellinger, had asked the appeal court to reinterpret the law so that people like her client were recognised as female.

The European Court of Justice had ruled that there should be no discrimination against a person because they were transsexual and reprimanded the UK for not keeping under review the legal position of transsexuals in domestic law.

The couple had lived together as man and wife for the last 20 years.

See also:

21 Oct 98 | UK Politics
Transexual demands 'respect'
20 Oct 98 | UK Politics
MP praises 'The Street'
24 Sep 98 | Lib Dem Conference
'Give transsexuals their rights'
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