Human rights groups urge last-minute action to save civil partnerships

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

With only one day left of a Government consultation into the future of civil partnerships, human rights groups are urging the public to voice their views.

The 12-week consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) opened in January and closes tomorrow, 17 April 2014. It allows any member of the public to complete and return a form online or as a hard copy to be considered.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called on the public to reject the abolition of civil partnerships, reject the stopping of new civil partnerships but to support the extension of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.

“We have one day left to save civil partnerships from potential abolition, stop existing civil partners being forced to convert them into marriages and to secure the extension of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“Some LGBT and straight people don’t like the sexist, homophobic traditions of marriage. They’d prefer a civil partnership; believing it to be more equal and without the historical baggage that goes with matrimony.

“In a democratic society we should all be equal before the law. The ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships is unjust discrimination. Opposite-sex couples should be able to have a civil partnership if they wish,” he continued.

Mr Tatchell also wrote to Helen Grant MP, the government minister responsible for the future of civil partnerships, to express those views.

There are several possible outcomes. Some wish for civil partnerships to be opened up to opposite-sex couples, in order to give the option of civil partnerships or marriage to any couple.

Others have suggested that same-sex couples in civil partnerships could be automatically converted to marriage, and civil partnerships could be phased out altogether.

A third option of “grandfathering” the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act, which would mean that gay couples already in civil partnerships would remain so, but no civil partnerships would be issued in future.

A straight couple from London last year announced their engagement, but said that they would get civilly partnered rather than married, in order to push for full marriage equality.

Mr Tatchell last year criticised Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, for ruling out the measure during the same-sex marriage debate.

Last year a DCMS spokesperson said: “Civil partnerships were created for a very specific reason – to give same-sex couples access to legal rights at a time when society was not ready to give them access to marriage.

“Now that the time is right to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it is also right that we should consider the future of civil partnerships. There are strong views on both sides of this debate, and we have listened to those views. A proper review will allow us to look at the issues in a considered and thorough way, giving full consideration to the implications of any changes.”