Government consultation into future of civil partnerships to close today

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A Government consultation into the future of civil partnerships is to close at 5pm today.

Human rights groups have urged the British public to complete the consultation form as very few have.

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.

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.

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.

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.”