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July 10, 2019

Statement from Government on mixed-sex CPs next steps

The campaign has received a statement from the Government department working on the implementation of mixed-sex civil partnerships.

“The government has today published a paper entitled Implementing Opposite-Sex Civil Partnerships: Next Steps setting out how it intends to implement opposite-sex civil partnerships by the end of this year. This includes important issues such as parental responsibility and parenthood, financial benefits and entitlements and the protections the government intends to put in place for religious organisations in relation to civil partnerships. The government’s approach is, wherever appropriate, to extend existing rights that apply to same-sex civil partners or opposite-sex married couples to opposite-sex civil partners. This document is not, therefore, a formal consultation.

The issue on which the government is keen to hear views is conversion into and out of marriage. The government is seeking views on proposals to introduce a new right for opposite-sex couples to convert from a marriage to a civil partnership for a limited period of time, before bringing this (and the existing right for same-sex couples to convert from a civil partnership to marriage) to an end. The consultation on conversion rights, Civil Partnerships: The Future of Conversion Rights, has also been published today and runs until 20 August.

The combined policy paper and consultation can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/civil-partnerships-next-steps-and-consultation-on-conversion


The government is not able to commit to a date for implementation of opposite-sex civil partnerships at this stage. The changes to the law extending civil partnerships and the associated rights and benefits to opposite-sex civil partners will be set out in regulations which are being prepared in parallel. These regulations will need to be debated in both Houses of Parliament before they can come into force. The government has, however, restated its aim that opposite-sex couples will be able to both give notice and register their civil partnerships before the end of the year.  Any changes on conversion rights are likely to follow at a later date. This is to allow the government time to analyse the responses to the consultation and to permit the General Register Office to make the necessary changes to its processes and systems.

July 10, 2019

Government Paper on implementation of CPs & consultation on conversion from marriage published

The Government has produced a paper today, announcing the next steps to be taken in the implementation of mixed-sex civil partnerships and a consultation around the issue of conversion from marriage to civil partnerships.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/civil-partnerships-next-steps-and-consultation-on-conversion

The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign broadly welcomes the Government’s announcement today as it reveals much of the detail and thinking behind how the government intends to implement civil partnerships for all couples who want one in England and Wales by the legal deadline of 31 December.

For those of us who have campaigned long and hard for relationship equality without the need to get married, it is rewarding to see all the new rights around paternity, pension transfer and inheritance spelt out.

However, we are disappointed that no date has yet been set – or indicated – for when couples can actually register to have a civil partnership, apart from the end of year deadline. This appears to be for procedural and Parliamentary reasons that many will find frustrating.

The ECP Campaign is aware of hundreds of mixed-sex* couples who are planning to enter into a civil partnership at the earliest opportunity, but are unable to book a date at their local register office or “set a date to celebrate” as the government cannot yet say when the secondary legislation needed to enact the law change will be completed.

Martin Loat, Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign chair said:

“Not having a date is frustrating for couples who just want to form a legal union in a way that suits them.  We urge the government to proceed as quickly as possible down the home straight so that these couples can get over the finishing line soon.

“Avoiding the familial and cultural trappings of marriage is often cited as a reason for wanting a civil partnership instead. So the ECP campaign also urges the government to ensure that the registration fees for having a mixed-sex civil partnership are kept as low as possible around England and Wales so that no couple is prevented from booking their civil partnership on grounds of cost.”

 “We also think that the government should run a national advertising campaign when the time comes so that everyone understands the benefits and possibilities of having a civil partnership as opposed to co-habiting without legal protection or rights.”

The ECP Campaign welcomes the government consultation on the matter of opposite-sex married couples being allowed to convert their marriage into civil partnership. This affects a smaller group of people and by handling this separately into 2020 the government is not delaying the main introduction this year of civil partnerships for couples who do not yet have any legal rights.

The consultation deadline is 20 August.

The ECP campaign will be asking the government not to put a time-limit on when an opposite-sex couple can convert their marriage into a civil partnership, or to at least provide a long window of several years. This is to allow for couples to “come late to the party” on civil partnerships which might happen as this new element of our culture gains popularity.

*The government refers to “opposite-sex couples”, but we prefer to use the term “mixed-sex couples” to embrace trans-gender possibilities.