The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 comes into force on 26 May 2019 allowing both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to choose either marriage or civil partnership.
It has taken well over a decade to achieve equality in this area. In December 2005 the Civil Partnership Act was implemented. This enabled same-sex partners to have their relationships officially recognised for the first time in England and Wales, affording them equivalent rights to married couples. Whilst this was a step in the right direction for equality, same-sex partners still weren’t on an equal footing as they could not marry.
The position changed when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force in March 2014, with the first same-sex marriages taking place on 29 March 2014. Once again this failed to level the playing field; same-sex partners had the choice of a registered civil partnership or marriage, with opposite-sex partners being unable to form a civil partnership.
Equality works both ways, and it has long been argued that to achieve this everyone should be able to formalise their relationship as they choose, either through a civil partnership or marriage. This has recently been tested in the Supreme Court which concluded that the failure to offer civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is incompatible with articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950. Article 8 is the right to respect for private and family life, whilst article 14 is the right to enjoy Convention rights and freedoms without discrimination on grounds such as sex and sexual orientation.
As a result of the judgement, the Government had the choice of either withdrawing civil partnerships or making them available to opposite-sex couples. They chose the latter and the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 comes into force at the end of this month.
It’s not yet known what the take up will be for opposite-sex couples wishing to register a civil partnership, watch this space. But remember, for anyone getting married or forming a civil partnership, any existing Will you hold will be revoked unless made in contemplation of the ceremony.
Get in touch with our Wills, trusts and probate team and tick this off your to do list before you say “I do”.
Warm congratulations to all however you choose to celebrate your relationship.