Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships

The Government has announced its plans to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples by the end of the year.

Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership. The introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 which legalised same sex marriage meant that same sex couples had a choice as to whether they wished to enter into a civil partnership or marriage. The Civil Partnership Act was not however extended to include opposite sex couples and therefore the only option for such couples who wished to have their relationship legally recognised was to be married.

Last year the Supreme Court held that the bar on opposite sex couples entering into a civil partnership was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, however they did not have the power to make changes to legislation and it was therefore left for the Government to decide how, and when, to resolve the issue.

In addition to announcing its plans to provide opposite sex couples with the option to enter into a civil partnership the Government are also launching a consultation seeking views on the conversion of marriages to civil partnerships in order to consider those who did not previously have this option.

The consultation will run until 20th August 2019 and will inform how the Government legislates on the issue, with new legislation set to be introduced by the end of 2019.