Opposite sex civil partnerships to begin on New Year’s Eve

Opposite sex couples in England and Wales will be able to enter civil partnerships for the first time on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier this week the House of Lords approved the Civil Partnership (Opposite Sex Couples) Regulations 2019. These amend the Civil Partnership Act, which dates back to 2004. The newly altered provisions will allow straight couples to register civil partnerships in addition to their same sex counterparts.

The amendments have been scheduled for 2 December 2019. As a 28-day notice period is still required when couples register their intention to marry or enter a civil partnership, 31 December will be the first available date.

The introduction of civil partnerships for opposite sex couples was announced by the government in October 2018, following a Supreme Court ruling earlier that year. Subsequent legislation requiring the amendment of the Civil Partnership Act was passed in May.

During the final debates on the issue in the House of Lords, Minister of the State for the Home Office Baroness Williams noted that, despite the new inclusion of opposite sex couples, only their same sex counterparts will have the right to convert civil partnerships into marriage at a later date. This conversion right may eventually be extended, however, following the analysis of a public consultation on the topic which closed on 20 August.

Martin Loat chairs the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, which lobbied for the inclusion of opposite sex couples. He said:

“It has been a long journey through both the courts and parliament to get to this point. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who has been involved in the campaign…We are all delighted and relieved that the start date of 31st December can be adhered to.”

You can read the full House of Lords debate here.

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