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Civil partnerships for all?

In a recent survey regarding whether Civil Partnerships should be made available for heterosexual couples, 57% of people asked stated that they felt all couples should be given the right to enter into a civil partnership and 20% of people stated that civil partnerships should be removed altogether, with 24% stating they did not know or did not mind what should happen.

The term civil partnership in law has been used to refer to same sex relationships and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 governs this type of relationship. This also afforded civil partners the right to certain financial and other orders should their relationship end (known as dissolution). Civil partners were further given the right to convert their civil partnership to marriage under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

The issue of civil partnerships for heterosexual couples was recently brought to the fore by the recent case taken to the Supreme Court by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan. Whilst the appeal was not successful it highlighted the disparity in the rights available to same sex civil partners and heterosexual cohabiting couples. The Court of Appeal in February 2017 stated that the situation cannot continue as it means couples are being treated differently.

As a result the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) bill is currently making its way through Parliament however the second reading of the bill which was due to take place on 12 May 2017 was postponed due to the dissolving of Parliament on 3 May 2017 in light of the recent election. It is hoped that this bill will be passed and provide equality to same sex and heterosexual couples who choose to remain in a civil partnership as opposed to marriage.

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