July 10, 2019
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.
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.