Gay couples are still getting civil partnerships – but more are being dissolved

Same-sex marriage (Getty Images)

The first same-sex marriages in England, Scotland and Wales took place in 2014, but couples had been entering into civil partnerships for nearly a decade prior to this.

Passed in 2004, the Civil Partnership Act was a halfway house. It gave same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, but civil partnerships were not marriages.

Under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, couple were able to convert their civil partnerships to marriages, and same-sex couples were able to get newly married.

But despite the change in the law, many same-sex couples are still choosing to have a civil partnership, rather than marriage.

Civil Partnerships in England, Scotland and Wales (ONS)

Civil Partnerships in England, Scotland and Wales (ONS)

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that 960 couples entered into civil partnerships in England, Wales and Scotland in 2016.

This was actually a marginal increase from 925 in 2015.

However, 1,313 civil partnerships were dissolved in England and Wales in 2016 – more than were entered into.

Female couples made up 60 per cent of those whose civil partnerships were dissolved.

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Nicola Haines of the ONS said: “Following legislative change enabling marriages of same-sex couples from March 2014, civil partnership formations declined as the majority of same-sex couples opted for marriage instead.

“However, 2016 represents the first increase in civil partnership formations since this change, showing that a minority of same-sex couples still prefer this option to marriage.”

She added: ” Interestingly, male couples accounted for 68 per cent of all civil partnerships in 2016, however, our latest marriage statistics show that male couples accounted for only 44 per cent of all marriages formed between same sex-couples in 2014.”

Same-sex wedding (Getty Images)

Same-sex wedding (Getty Images)


The number of same-sex couples opting for civil partnerships predictably collapsed from over 5,000 a year in 2013 to the hundreds on the introduction of same-sex marriage.

Following the introduction of same-sex marriage, some have called for straight couples to be allowed to enter into civil partnerships.

This was ruled out by Theresa May’s government last year, but Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Labour MP Chris Bryant earlier this year called for a public vote on the matter.

Straight couple Rebecca Steinfeld and partner Chris Keidan lost their battle for a civil partnership on a two-to-one decision at the Court of Appeal, but it was suggested that this “discrimination” against heterosexual couples should not last indefinitely.