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May 7, 2024

ONS civil partnership figures for 2022 show increase from 2021

Nearly 6K opposite-sex couples registered their civil partnership during 2021, despite covid restrictions affecting register offices in the first part of the year. In total 6879 civil partnerships were registered in England and Wales, according to figures released by the ONS on 29 February 2024, an increase of 2.2% on 2021.  84% , 5760, of these were accounted for by opposite-sex couples, increased from 5692 in 2021.

The figures highlight the need that the introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships has filled. Around half of the couples registering their civil partnership in 2022 were over 55 years of age, suggesting that these relationships are of longstanding with the partners having waited until they could enter the legal relationship of their choice. With around 50% of individuals having previously been married and divorced, it appears that civil partnerships are increasingly seen as a fresh option with none of the historic accumulated baggage and assumptions of marriage.

The increase in couples taking up the option of an opposite-sex civil partnership is particularly note-worthy, given that Covid restrictions in 2022 both limited the number of registrations earlier in the year and focused register offices on clearing their backlog of previous bookings when restrictions were lifted. Research by the Equal Civil Partnership campaign has shown that a very high number – over 70% – of couples choosing an opposite-sex civil partnership want the simple statutory registration – in a working office with only two witnesses and no vows being exchanged. Whilst all local authorities must offer this option, the availability is at their discretion with many register offices severely restricting times and dates as a cost-saving exercise.

‘Since the first registrations on 31st December 2019 to the end of 2022, 19,185 couples have been able to secure the financial and legal security that a civil partnership brings’, comments Martin Loat OBE, Chair of the Equal Civil Partnership campaign. ‘That is nearly 40,000 adults – and their families – who would probably have chosen to continue cohabiting rather than wed. We are delighted that we have been able to give them this security – and the pleasure of enjoying the relationship of their choice. We will continue to advocate for civil partnerships as they become an established choice for couples. We also call upon register offices to treat couples wanting a civil partnership fairly and not to make them wait longer simply because they tend not to want to buy costly ceremonies or hire local authority venues.’

The campaign group also continues to highlight the legal anomaly whereby same-sex couples in a civil partnership are able to convert their relationship to marriage whereas opposite-sex couples, married prior to the 2019 bill, are unable to convert to civil partnerships. ‘We know from our supporters that many couples felt forced into marriage for the sake of legal protections despite their own beliefs and values’, says Martin Loat,  ‘and they long to convert their relationship to the one of their own choice. With the passing of the bill in 2019, the Government promised that this anomaly would be quickly resolved but five years have passed with no resolution in sight.’

The Equal Civil Partnership campaign continues to support couples in their quest to enjoy the legal relationship and registration of it which is right for them. One popular service offered by the campaign group is a ‘Witness database’ which can provide a couple with like-minded witnesses. This has been particularly welcomed for statutory registrations.

March 1, 2024

Civil Partnership: ONS figures- 2021

‘In 2021, there were 6,731 civil partnerships formed in England and Wales, a decrease of 19.4% from 8,351 in 2020. The majority (5,692) of civil partnership formations in 2021 were between opposite-sex couples; this is a decrease of a quarter (24.8%) from 7,566 in 2020, the first full year that opposite-sex civil partnerships had been possible in England and Wales.

The number and timing of civil partnership formations and dissolutions granted during 2020 and 2021 may have been affected by restrictions around ceremonies and receptions, and disruption to registration services and family court activities in England and Wales during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.’

Full details and analysis can be found at Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 9 December 2022, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Civil partnerships in England and Wales: 2021

July 11, 2023

Former ECP Campaign Chair Martin Loat awarded an OBE

Congratulations to Martin Loat, former chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, who has been awarded an OBE in the first King’s Birthday Honours list (published 16 June 2023) for “services to civil partnerships”.

While views of the UK Honours system will vary, the award acknowledges the hard work and commitment Martin put in during the active years of our campaign from 2015 to 2020.

He said; “I’m proud to be honoured in this way for my contribution. But the ECP campaign’s success was built on the principled stand and courage of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan in taking the Government to court originally. And we needed Tim Loughton MP to push his private member’s bill through Parliament and into law. Recognition must go to them and the ECP steering group including Fiona Millar and our advisors and support team who made this success possible.”

January 7, 2022

ONS Figures for 2020 Released

The ONS has released figures for 2020, the first full year in which mixed-sex civil partnerships were allowed to be registered in England and Wales.

Despite the closure of register offices in March and then subsequent restrictions on number of guests able to attend, 7566 mixed-sex civil partnerships were formed.

2020 was not the ideal first year for mixed-sex civil partnerships that we had been hoping for. We are encouraged that over 15,000 people in England and Wales were able to form the legal and life relationship of their choice, ensuring security for themselves during a health crisis. Given the problems facing couples last year when civil partnerships were not allowed to go ahead at all – or with so many restrictions that many couples decided to wait – we don’t know how many more civil partnerships might otherwise have been formed. 

We are delighted for each and every couple that registered their relationship during that difficult year.

March 15, 2021

We’re still here to help

Although we are taking a step back from active campaigning, we still want to play a role in supporting couples through their mixed-sex civil partnership registrations.

So get in touch to

  • Celebrate your civil partnership on social media. Post directly on our facebook page or tag us on twitter @EqualCPs – don’t forget to use the hashtag #ADateToCelebrate
  • Ask for our help in finding witnesses for your CP registration – we love to provide support from the community
  • Sign up to the witness database if you’d like to help other couples
  • Sign up to our mailing list to be kept up-to-date
  • Let us know if you are having problems with a register office/other organisations – email us at hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk
  • Buy ECP branded goodies – mugs, masks, phone cases, clothing – they make great additions to a CP registration and wonderful presents

March 15, 2021

A Letter from the Campaign Team

Today we publish a letter on the website from the ECP Campaign Team, explaining the current plans of the campaign and what we will be continuing to do as we move into the next stage.

Today is exactly two years since the UK Parliament passed the Civil Partnerships Bill. Since the Civil Partnerships Act came into force in December  2019, all couples have the choice of a civil partnership as a more modern, equal and feminist alternative to marriage.

With this change in the law, the primary objective of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign was achieved and its formal work was done.

To ease the transition, our campaign continued to advise couples about the process of forming a civil partnership, to liaise with and support registry offices to fulfil their duties, to help couples find witnesses from within a like-minded community, to keep people informed of the changing advice due to the pandemic, to ask the Law Commission to ensure that forthcoming changes to marriage that will make it more accessible will be applied to civil partnerships too, and much more.

Now that civil partnerships have been available to all for over a year, albeit in circumstances that no one could have foreseen, we feel that it is the right time to close down the formal ‘campaigning’ part of Equal Civil Partnerships .

This does not mean the end of the movement for civil partnerships, but it does mark a new stage on the journey.

We are aware that there are important milestones still to come. Mixed-sex civil partnerships will be able to be registered in Scotland by the end of June, which will be the final step to ensure equal access to civil partnerships across the United Kingdom. We are also awaiting the Government’s decision on the right to convert marriages into civil partnerships (and vice-versa), so that those who are currently married but would prefer to be civilly partnered can change their status without having to first divorce. The campaigns team, including the indomitable Anni Johnson, will be on hand to co-ordinate our response to these live issues.

Beyond 2021, we are aware that we cannot take our collective achievement for granted. Civil partnerships still need to be celebrated and championed to ensure they become an enduring institution. While these bigger questions are beyond the scope of this campaign, we invite you to keep sharing stories of your own civil partnerships on Facebook and Twitter – using #ADateToCelebrate – and do tag us @EqualCPs. We will also continue to operate our own witness registration database so get in touch if you would like witnesses from the ECP community or feel you can provide this for other couples. Our Red Bubble shop remains open for you to buy ECP branded mugs, masks, phone covers etc – great gifts and ideal for CP registrations.  Finally, do please get in contact with us – hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk  – if you have problems of any kind with your register office.  We want to ensure that we continue to raise awareness within register offices and highlight any problems.

Like us, please continue to champion civil partnerships among your friends and family.

Thank you for all your support over these last seven years. We could not have achieved this outcome without your commitment and support .

Warm wishes,

Rebecca Steinfeld, Charles Keidan, Fiona Millar, Martin Loat, Prof Robert Wintemute, Peter Tatchell, Elsie Owusu OBE

Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign Group

January 19, 2021

What does 2021 hold for mixed-sex civil partnerships?

Congratulations – and commiserations, We’re running out of ways to say 2020 was a year like no other but we do feel particularly for all the mixed-sex couples who have waited so long to register their civil partnership only to be paused by lockdowns and covid restrictions.

To those of you who were able to register your relationship, we are thrilled for you. Please continue to send in your photos for #ADateToCelebrate. There are far too many to post here and all are fantastic, we don’t want to single any out!  Take a look through the pictures here

Email them and your stories to hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk

ECP in 2020

Although mixed-sex civil partnerships became a legal reality at the very end of 2019, our work continued in 2020, ensuring that mixed-sex civil partnerships enjoy a high profile, building understanding and acceptance of them and fighting all discrimination from register offices, financial or legal organisations. 

Some of our projects have included:

  • Building a register of both couples who would like witnesses provided for them from the ECP community and supporters happy to witness for others. We have successfully matched up many couples already. Do sign up if you would like to help or be helped in this way.
  • Campaigning for digital registration to provide legal and financial protection during a national crisis. 
  • Ensuring that civil partnerships receive due prominence through case histories in the media – particularly dealing with registrations having to be cancelled.
  • Providing a voice for civil partnerships in the Law Commission’s review of protocols surrounding marriage
  • Continuing to support mixed-sex civil partnerships in Scotland.
  • Individual discussions with register offices/financial companies where communication or  service has failed in understanding mixed-sex civil partnerships
  • Undertaking #RateYourRegisterOffice, allowing us to celebrate those register offices who have been particularly helpful and to identify areas needing improvement.
  • Creation of our shop allowing supporters to buy a range of ECP branded goodies from mugs to hoodies. 

Some of the items available in our ECP shop

ECP in 2021

We hope that we will soon be able to celebrate registrations once again! And we are delighted that we are receiving our first anniversary celebration so do send us a picture of yours!

Plans for the year ahead include:

  • Continuing to build our witness register database helping couples who would like us to provide witnesses 
  • Provide awareness training around mixed-sex civil partnerships for register offices. We will be proactively offering this to register offices who scored badly in #RateYourRegisterOffice but are already working with individual register offices who have already asked for help.
  • Maintaining a help-desk for all queries relating to mixed-sex civil partnerships.
  • Continuing to support, celebrate and to fight on your behalf where needed.
  • Celebrating the start of mixed-sex civil partnerships in Scotland, due to become a reality in 2021. 

How you can help us

If you have had your civil partnership in 2020, please donate to help us support other couples to have the Civil Partnership they have been waiting so long for. And if you weren’t able to go ahead with yours, your donation will allow us to support you when the time comes.

To support us 
Give a regular monthly donation – and receive a free gift in return. It takes just 2 minutes to fill out the form.

Give a one-off donation via our GoFundMe page

December 11, 2020

ECP branded goodies – great gifts and stocking fillers!

Exciting news! We have teamed up with Red Bubble to produce a range of ECP branded goodies, just in time for Christmas. They make a great gift or stocking filler for the civil partner in your life – or a congratulations gift for couples who have formed a civil partnership in this first year of the legal relationship. Or just treat yourself! What could be better than relaxing with a cup of tea in an ECP mug?

All the items can be bought from our Red Bubble Shop Items include masks – very useful for covid restricted civil partnerships! – clothing, phone cases and furnishings. 20% of the cost of each item is returned to ECP for us to continue our mission to establish and embed mixed-sex civil partnerships as well as to help our couples solve any problems on the way.

And we’d love to see you using them! Send us your pictures to hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk and we’ll put them on our social media! Happy shopping!

December 4, 2020


Mixed-sex civil partnerships want to do things differently. That’s the key message behind our survey,  asking mixed-sex couples to rate their experience of civil partnership registrations over the last year. Almost 77% of respondents chose the simple statutory ‘no frills’ registration in a working office with no vows and only the two witnesses present. This represents a huge shift change from both marriage and same-sex civil partnership.

Whilst all register offices must offer the simple option for registration, it has been a minority option for the existing legal relationships of marriage and same-sex civil partnerships. A further 14% of respondents to the survey complain that it is offered so infrequently or at such unfriendly times, that they were not able to take advantage of it; This correlates to the 14% of respondents who told us that they were not able to have the simple registration that they wanted.

The survey also highlighted the need for greater understanding of civil partnerships from registrars and register office staff. A regular complaint was terminology – couples objected to being called bride and groom with the registration referred to as a wedding. Complaints were also received about both websites and communications not being updated to include mixed-sex civil partnerships and no promotion of the simple registration on websites.

The news for register offices is not all bad. A total of 143 individual register offices were cited in the responses and scored across 5 different areas. 33 of these received perfect scores and over 100 received an average of 80% or above, indicating that on the whole, register offices have adapted well to the new legal relationship.

A further ground for celebration is the lengths to which registrars have gone to make registrations special even under restrictions. Respondents told us of emergency civil partnerships carried out prior to lockdown, guests face-timing in and windows being opened to allow guests outside to listen.

ECP campaign director, Fiona Millar, said “After so many years of campaigning, we are delighted that so many couples have had the registration they want. There is still work to be done, however. Our main ask would be for register offices to understand that the simple registration is going to be ever more popular and to offer greater flexibility and choice of times around it.”

October 20, 2020

Donate Your Civil Partnership

Are you having a civil partnership but don’t want to receive any gifts? Why not ask friends and family to donate to our campaign instead? You can celebrate your union by helping as many people as possible hear about and get the chance to have a mixed-sex Civil Partnership!

We will set up a JustGiving page for the first 5 couples who want to do this and send them a free ECP mug to show our thanks. Email us at hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk with subject line DONATE MY CIVIL PARTNERSHIP.

For anyone else, it takes less than 10 minutes to set up a page at https://www.justgiving.com.

Or you can simply ask loved ones to go directly to our Go Fund Me page and leave a donation in your name.