Opposite-Sex Civil Partnerships

Thank you for contacting me about the future of civil partnerships. 

I welcome the announcement that the law will be changed to allow opposite-sex couples in England and Wales to enter into a civil partnership. This will address the imbalance that allows same-sex couple to choose between a marriage and a civil partnership, but not mixed-sex couples. There are a range of reasons for people not wanting to get married and I am pleased that civil partnerships will provide an alternative option that brings legal certainty and stability to their families. This will ensure that more children have the best start in life. 

Same-sex couples in England and Wales can either get married or enter a civil partnership, whereas opposite-sex couples can currently only get married. Same-sex civil partnerships became law in 2005, and I am incredibly proud that legislation creating equal same-sex marriage was introduced in 2014. In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2004 Act was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. There are over 3.3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK, living together with shared financial responsibilities and 1.2 million of these have children. Currently, if an unmarried parent dies there is no legal entitlement for assets to be shared with a cohabiting partner and nor does the exemption to inheritance tax apply. Providing the option for opposite-sex civil partnerships will protect families in such a difficult time and ensure children have the stability they need to thrive. 

I understand that there a number of legal issues to consider, especially across pension and family law, but I am encouraged that a consultation will run on the technical details. I know that ministers are keen to ensure that the change in law happens as soon as possible.