Government Equalities Office policy paper and upcoming consultation: The Future Operation of Civil Partnership – Gathering Further Information

The Government Equalities Office announced that it will consult on the future of civil partnerships.

This is from their May 2018 policy paper (pdf) which sets out  plans for a new consultation to assess whether there is still enough demand for civil partnerships among same-sex couples, now that marriages are available to them.  And whether there is demand for civil partnerships amongst opposite-sex couples.

The report finds:

  • If demand for civil partnerships remains low and this becomes a stable position, this might suggest that same-sex couples no longer see this as a relevant way of recognising their relationships, and that Government should consider abolishing or phasing out civil partnerships entirely
  • If significant demand for civil partnerships remains over time, this may indicate that the institution still has relevance
  • In considering the future of civil partnerships in Scotland, the Scottish Government have said that 5 years’ data was needed to assess ongoing demand for civil partnerships among same-sex couples
  • The Government’s previous consultations did not suggest a significant number of opposite-sex couples wished to enter civil partnerships.  This might be because demand for civil partnerships is very low among opposite-sex couples.

The Government aims to:

  • Fully understand and compare the potential advantages and disadvantages of adopting each of the different options for changing the existing law
  • Conduct an accurate and up-to-date assessment of the demand for civil partnership among opposite-sex couples. They intend to survey people in unmarried, opposite-sex relationships, as they are the group who would most likely be affected by a decision to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex
  • Undertake research with people who are current civil partners to understand their views on civil partnership and marriage, and their future intentions and preferences
  • To see what evidence is available from other countries. Where there is data available, they will examine what happened once new marriage and civil partnership policies were introduced, and the length of time until trends settle down following the introduction of a new marriage or civil partnership policy.

When this work is completed, the Government should have the information it needs to bring forward proposals for the future of civil partnerships.  At the earliest, they would anticipate being able to consult on the future operation of civil partnerships in 2020.

Read the full report (pdf).