November 6, 2019

Happy New Year for Civil Partnerships

Mixed-sex couples will finally be able to register civil partnerships in England and Wales starting from New Year’s Eve 2019 after secondary legislation was read and approved in the House of Lords on 5th November 2019.  Couples will be able to give notice from 2nd December 2019 and the first civil partnerships can be registered on 31st December after the usual 28 days notice.

During the debate, Baroness Susan Williams explained that the bill was being passed without inclusion of conversion to/from marriage as that was a longer task following the consultation and there was a priority to ensure mixed-sex civil partnerships could happen by the end of 2019. She reassured the house that it was a priority for 2020.

Baroness Williams further confirmed that a bill to create opposite-sex civil partnerships was currently passing through the Scottish parliament. Until this bill has passed, civil partnerships formed in England and Wales will be treated as marriages in Scotland for legal and financial purposes. Afterwards,  they will be recognised as civil partnerships.

In good news for Northern Ireland, Baroness Williams confirmed that both opposite-sex and same-sex civil partnerships will be able to be formed from 13 January 2020.

Martin Loat, Chair of the campaign, commented, “It has been a long journey through both the courts and parliament to get to this point. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who has been involved in the campaign – especially Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan whose eventual win at the Supreme Court led us to this place, Tim Loughton MP who tenaciously took this on as a Private Members Bill, Baroness Fiona Hodgson who led the Bill through the Lords and of course all the supporters whose own testimonies have played a real role in the campaign. We are all delighted and relieved that the start date of 31st December can be adhered to.”

ECP campaign was very grateful for the kind and generous words spoken by members of the House during the debate.

In the words of Lord Cashman

“Let us get this through and allow those who may wish to take this wonderful opportunity—perhaps on 31 December or even 1 January—the luxury to say that in a country where we are equal, they celebrate the person they love regardless of the gender of that person.”

The full debate can be read here https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2019-11-05/debates/3184F27B-407A-47E3-A4B8-F865CE5FF82A/CivilPartnership(Opposite-SexCouples)Regulations2019

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