Civil partnerships to be extended to all
New bill proposes equality for mixed sex couples.
Mixed sex couples will be able to enter into a civil partnership under proposals to bring equality to legally recognised relationships.
A Bill being introduced to the Scottish Parliament in the autumn will ensure mixed sex couples and same sex couples have the same choices of marriage or civil partnership.
The decision follows a ruling in the UK Supreme Court last year. The ruling declared that the UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 was not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights on equality grounds, as it prevents mixed sex couples from entering into civil partnerships.
The Scottish Government consulted on the future of civil partnership in Scotland asking for views on the pros and cons of two options for change: scrapping civil partnership, or making it available to mixed sex couples.
Following careful consideration of the comments made by consultees, the Scottish Government has decided that making civil partnerships available to all would be the best way to remove the ECHR incompatibility from the law in Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“Extending civil partnerships to mixed sex couples gives equality and choice to all.
“All couples will now have the option of a civil partnership or marriage which is a ground breaking change for Scotland. We will be providing people with the option to enter into a legally recognised relationship which reflects their personal views.
“We wanted to ensure all voices were heard in regard to the future of civil partnership in Scotland and we have listened very carefully to the views of respondents to the consultation.
“This is about ensuring we are compatible with ECHR law and creating an inclusive, fairer Scotland which promotes equality of choice and human rights for everyone.”
Civil partnership in Scotland was introduced by the UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 for same sex couples. This Act extends across the UK and took effect from 5 December 2005. Civil partnerships are created by registration.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced marriage for same sex couples.
Civil partnership ceremonies can be religious or belief or civil. They can be registered by a registrar or authorised religious or belief celebrant.
There were 481 responses to the 2018 consultation on the future of civil partnership. Respondents told us they wanted mixed sex civil partnership to be introduced because:
· Civil partnership provides the opportunity to enter into a legally recognised relationship
· It will facilitate access to rights and responsibilities for couples who don’t wish to marry
· Equality of choice for all couples is important
National Records of Scotland have published statistics on civil partnership in Scotland.
Other countries where mixed sex civil partnership has been introduced include the Netherlands and New Zealand, and the UK Government has announced that it will make mixed sex civil partnership available in England and Wales by the end of this year.