To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, if the Government will make it its policy to bring forward legislative proposals to allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships; and if she will make a statement.
10 February 2016
In 2014, after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was passed, the government carried out a review of the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, including a thorough public consultation on potential changes to civil partnership. Views were invited on three options: abolishing, or phasing out civil partnerships; or extending them to opposite sex couples.
The review found that there was no clear consensus on the future of civil partnerships. A majority of respondents to the consultation were against extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples and several important organisations thought it was too soon to consider making changes to civil partnerships until the impact of extending marriage to same sex couples is known. Given the lack of any consensus the government has no current plans to make changes to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
On 29 January 2016, the High Court dismissed a legal challenge to the lack of availability of civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. The Court ruled unequivocally that the current regime of marriage and civil partnership does not disadvantage anyone nor does it infringe anyone’s right to family or private life. We also welcome the Court’s view that it is entirely reasonable for the Government to wait to see the impact of extending marriage to same sex couples before deciding on the way forward.