I support equal access to civil partnerships for all couples regardless of gender or sexuality and I therefore support the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill is a Private Members’ Bill supported by a range of cross-party MPs. It seeks to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to allow opposite sex couples to enter a civil partnership.
Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004. This was a landmark policy that allowed lesbian, gay and bisexual people to have their loving relationships recognised by law and have the same benefits as married couples for the first time.
During the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 in the last Parliament, the Opposition supported access to Civil Partnerships for all couples. However, because of concerns about a wrecking amendment that would have derailed and postponed the implementation of equal marriage, the Opposition put down its own amendment to ensure that the government would consult on allowing all couples access to Civil Partnerships as soon as possible following the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.
Following its consultation into the operation and future of civil partnerships, the Coalition Government stated in 2014 that it would not be making any changes to the law regarding civil partnerships, and the government has since reaffirmed this position.
The government’s position will come as a disappointment to many people, including supporters of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign and those who have signed the Change.Org petition calling for civil partnerships to be open to all.
Extending civil partnerships to different-sex couples would help couples, who do not wish to marry, access greater legal protections for themselves and their family. This would enable us to take another step in extending true equality, by allowing people to choose the type of partnership that best suits their needs, faith and aspirations.
The Bill is scheduled to have its Second Reading debate on January 13. The Opposition is giving the Bill its full backing.