The government has tabled an amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which would see a review of civil partnerships in the UK five years after the bill enters law.
The amendment has been put forward in response to proposals that civil partnerships be scrapped or extended to opposite sex couples. A review five years after the legislation enters law would allow the effect of gay marriage to be properly assessed, the government believes.
Equalities Minister Maria Miller said:
“The Equal Marriage Bill is about extending marriage to same-sex couples. Questions have been raised about whether we should also extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. There are strong views on both sides of this debate, and we have listened to those views. We are therefore offering the House the opportunity to have a review of this area, rather than legislating now without the required evidence.”
Meanwhile, controversial Tory MP Tim Loughton is thought to be planning a separate amendment which would extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples, as the bill approaches its third reading in the Commons on May 20.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called on MPs to rebel during the reading and support the Loughton amendment. He told Gay Star News:
“The government’s decision to oppose the legalisation of civil partnerships for heterosexual couples is hugely disappointing. It is a sad betrayal of the principle of equality. I hope a majority of MPs will rebel and next week vote for the parliamentary amendment top open up civil partnerships to opposite sex couples.”
Earlier this week, Maria Miller told a parliamentary subcommittee that extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples was neither “a necessity or a requirement”.