Equalities chief Penny Mordaunt backtracks on proposal to scrap civil partnerships

Photo of Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt has insisted that the government is “open minded” on the future of civil partnerships, after a document published in her name raised the prospect of scrapping them.

The government this month raised the possibility that it could abolish civil partnerships, which were introduced under the Labour government in 2004 as a segregated form of union only open to same-sex couples.

The number of new civil partnerships has plummeted to just a few hundred per year following the introduction of same-sex marriage, and a government report on their future states: “If demand for civil partnerships remains low and this becomes a stable position, this might suggest that same-sex couples no longer see this as a relevant way of recognising their relationships, and that Government should consider abolishing or phasing out civil partnerships entirely.”

The report adds that “if significant demand for civil partnerships remains over time, this may indicate that the institution still has relevance,” leaving the door open to the possibility of keeping civil partnerships and opening them to opposite-sex couples.

Penny Mordaunt (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

The document was published in the name of the Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt.

But in a public statement Mordaunt branded media reports on the issue “inaccurate,” though she did not make any specific denials relating to coverage.

The statement says: “We commissioned some research to test attitudes among same sex couples and opposite sex couples about civil partnerships to help inform us about what we do next.

“Quotes attributed to Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt by the Sunday Times at the weekend were taken from a policy paper on this research.

“We are open minded on this matter, and want to hear people’s views. Please get in touch by emailing [email protected].”

Stonewall’s Ruth Hunt added that Mordaunt had made an “unequivocal commitment [to the future of] civil partnerships” after a private meeting in which the issue was raised, adding: “Penny knows how important it is to so many of us.”

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