Civil partnerships to be offered to all couples

25 June 2019, 16:09 | Updated: 25 June 2019, 16:26

Wedding Rings

All couples will be given the option of having a civil partnership in Scotland under new proposals to equalise legally recognised relationships.

Legislation will be introduced at the Scottish Parliament following the summer recess to ensure same-sex couples and mixed-sex couples have the same choices on whether to marry or have a civil partnership.

It follows a consultation by the Scottish Government over the future of civil partnerships, which considered whether they should be scrapped or whether they should be extended to mixed sex couples.

The decision to make civil partnerships available to mixed-sex couples follows a ruling in the UK Supreme Court last year that declared the UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 was not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR) on equality grounds as it prevents mixed-sex couples from entering into civil partnerships.

Following the consultation, the Scottish Government decided making civil partnerships available to all would be the best way to remove the ECHR incompatibility from the law in Scotland.

The Bill to bring about the change will now be introduced at Holyrood in autumn.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "Extending civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples gives equality and choice to all.

"All couples will now have the option of a civil partnership or marriage, which is a groundbreaking change for Scotland.

"We will be providing people with the option to enter into a legally recognised relationship which reflects their personal views."

She added: "We wanted to ensure all voices were heard in regard to the future of civil partnership in Scotland and we have listened very carefully to the views of respondents to the consultation.

"This is about ensuring we are compatible with ECHR law and creating an inclusive, fairer Scotland which promotes equality of choice and human rights for everyone."

Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "Almost 20 years ago the Scottish Greens adopted policy in favour of both marriage and civil partnership being open to mixed-sex and same-sex couples equally.

"It's taken others some time to catch up but I'm pleased that the Scottish Government has now confirmed it plans to legislate and finally open civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples."

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Liberal Democrats have been pressing for civil partnerships to be made available to all couples for years.

"This legislation offers a chance to bring to an end a separate and unequal two-tier solution, once and for all.

"It seems only sensible to allow all couples to choose the form of partnership best suited to them."