Civil partnerships will remain available to same sex couples only, the government has announced.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport launched a consultation on the future of civil partnerships in January, following the legalisation of gay marriage the previous summer.
The consultation received in excess of 10,000 responses, the Department says, and more than 75 per cent were opposed to the idea of extending civil partnerships to straight couples. A majority, however, also opposed retiring civil partnership legislation, so such unions would no longer be an option for same sex couples. In addition, less than a third supported the active abolition of existing civil partnerships, and “several important organisations thought it was too soon to consider making changes to civil partnerships – this should wait until we know the impact of extending marriage to same sex couples.”
The document notes that data on the number of same couples who marry versus those who continue entering civil partnerships will not available for a period of time.
As a result, the Department states:
“Given the lack of consensus on the way forward, the Government will not be making any changes.”
The decision has been heavily criticized by veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who told Pink News that the government has “betrayed the principle of equality”.
“[David Cameron’s] government is maintaining legal discrimination against straight partners. In a democracy, we should all be equal before the law.”
Read the government’s full report on the consultation responses here.
Meanwhile, same sex couple will be able to convert existing civil partnerships into marriages from December 10 this year. Although this provision was included in the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act, the government delayed implementation, only announcing plans to allow conversion this year in February.