Government rules out straight civil partnerships and won’t recognise Isle of Man unions

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The government will not recognise opposite-sex civil partnerships entered into on the Isle of Man, and has ruled out opening up civil partnerships to straight couples.

Civil partnerships were introduced across the UK in 2004 by Tony Blair’s government, as a way to grant rights to same-sex couples separate from marriage.

After marriage was opened up to same-sex couples in 2014, a legal challenge was filed to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples too. The issue is currently before the courts.

The Isle of Man, which maintains autonomy as a Crown Dependency, became the first place in the British Isles to legalise civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples this summer, as it passed an equal marriage law. Some couples have already travelled from the UK to enter a partnership on the Isle of Man.

However, a UK government minister ruled out any reform on the issue in a statement to Parliament last week – also confirming that the government will not recognise the civil partnerships of opposite-sex couples who entered unions on the Isle of Man.

Equalities minister Caroline Dinenage confirmed: “The 2004 Civil Partnership Act created civil partnerships for same sex couples only.

“he Act sets out how such relationships entered into outside the UK will be treated. It lists overseas relationships that will be treated as civil partnerships in the UK.

“It also sets out the conditions that, if met, will result in a relationship entered into elsewhere – but not included in the list – being treated as a civil partnership here.

“As opposite sex couples cannot lawfully register a civil partnership here, the Act provides that couples registering a relationship overseas are not to be treated as having formed a civil partnership if, at the time the relationship was formed, they were not of the same sex.

“This rule applies in the same way wherever a couple registers their relationship, and treats UK nationals and couples from elsewhere in the same way.

“It means that an opposite sex civil partnership registered in the Isle of Man is not treated as a civil partnership as a matter of UK law.”