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The ex-wife of gay rugby player calls for same-sex affairs to be recognised in divorce law

Published: 16th June 2016

The ex-wife of rugby league star Keegan Hirst has called for divorce laws to be amended to recognise affairs between same-sex partners. The ex-wife, mother-of-three Sara Wilson, was informed that she could not file for divorce on the grounds of 'suspected adultery' as the law states that adultery can only take place between men and women.

The current divorce law in England and Wales states that a couple wishing to divorce can do so providing that the reason meets one of five criteria which include adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion for two years or more or the couple has been separated and living apart continuously for either two or five years.

Adultery can only be given as a reason if either partner has had a heterosexual affair and their partner can no longer bear to live with them. Adultery does not constitute a ground for divorce in the case of homosexual affairs or if the couple continue to live together for longer than 6 months after discovering the infidelity.

Keegan Hirst publically announced he was gay in August 2015, describing his relief at finally telling the truth about his sexuality as like 'letting out a long breath that I've held in for a long time'. Ms Wilson said she was shocked to learn that her husband is gay, Mr Hirst said he knew throughout their marriage although he maintains that he did not cheat.

However, Ms Wilson believes that he had been unfaithful and she had filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery, only to learn that she was unable to cite this as the reason. In January 2016, the couple agreed to divorce on the grounds of 'unreasonable behaviour'.

Ms Wilson is now campaigning for divorce laws to change, as she feels that the divorce process should be the same for all couples. She told a national newspaper: ‘Is it less of a betrayal if he slept with a man? No – so the process should be the same. I’ve always believed he cheated. The law now accepts same-sex marriage. Divorce needs to adjust for same-sex affairs.’

She added: ‘The law is out of sync with 21st century life - I believe he cheated and wanted my chance to say so in court.’

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