Marriage & civil partnership
Marriage and civil partnership refers to people who have entered into a marriage or a civil partnership.
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (13 June 2013)
Future of Civil Partnerships review to start in autumn 2013
Terms of Reference published for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
The Government has today announced its intention to launch a full public consultation in the autumn to kick start a review of the future of Civil Partnerships in England and Wales.
During a debate in the House of Commons of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, concerns were raised by MPs over the issue of civil partnerships and their role in light of same sex marriage legislation.
To ensure these issues are fully understood the Government tabled an amendment to the Bill which would allow for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to directly or indirectly discriminate or harass a person because they are married or in a civil partnership. Marriage and civil partnership though is not a protected characteristic in relation to services and public functions, premises, education and associations. This means it is only a protected characteristic in the context of work.
Currently in the UK, a marriage is only available to an opposite-sex couple, and a civil partnership is only available to a same-sex couple. The two institutions are legally separate, although similar in many ways. A civil partnership provides most of the rights of a marriage. This means that anything that is available to a married couple, such as special rates, privileges or benefits, must also be available to a couple in a civil partnership.
Although it is not explicitly laid out in the Equality Act 2010, if a couple in a civil partnership were to be treated less favourably than a couple in a marriage outside of work, it is likely that it would be discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In situations where a person is asked to disclose their marital or civil partnership status, it is very important, and often a legal requirement, for that information to be kept private. Revealing or implying that a person is in a civil partnership may expose them to discrimination or prejudice based on sexual orientation. For this reason, it is best practice to put the options of marriage and civil partnership together in any forms.
For further information on the Equality Act 2010, visit the Legislation page of this Website.
Resources 2012 onwards:
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:A short guide to the Bill. Department for Culture, Media and Sport, June 2013 (3 pages)
The main purpose of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is to allow for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales.
What the legislation will do:
The Bill will:
- enable same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies;
- ensure those religious organisations which wish to do so can opt-in to marry
- same sex couples according to their rites;
- protect religious organisations and their representatives from legal challenge if
- they do not wish to marry same sex couples;
- enable civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage, if they wish;
- enable individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their
- marriage, and
- require a review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Download a copy
The facts about equal marriage.Fact sheet. Department for Culture, Media and Sport, January 2013 (3 pages)
In January 2013, the Government introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill into Parliament to make the legislative changes necessary to enable same-sex couples to marry. This fact sheet gives useful background and information.
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Equal marriage: The Government’s response. Government Equalities Office, December 2012 (47 pages)
In March 2012 the Government launched a consultation which looked at how to enable same-sex couples to get married. The consultation ran for 13 weeks, closing on 14 June 2012. Just over 228,000 responses were sent to us, together with 19 petitions. This is the largest response ever received to a Government consultation, highlighting that this is an important issue to a great many people.
Our commitment, outlined in the consultation, was to consider how to enable same-sex couples to get married. While we recognise that there were many views opposing this proposal, the majority of responses to the consultation (not including petitions) supported opening up marriage to same-sex couples. We remain committed to changing the law to make civil marriage ceremonies available for same-sex couples.
Download a copy