Following the passing of new legislation last week, mixed sex couples will soon be able to have the choice between entering into a civil partnership or a marriage. The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was passed after MSPs unanimously voted at Holyrood last week. The Bill allows heterosexual couples to enter into a civil partnership.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 was introduced to allow same sex couples to enter into civil partnerships. Following the introduction of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, this extended the choice to marry to same sex couples. This accordingly resulted in same sex couples having the choice to enter into marriage or a civil partnership. However, in 2018, a ruling in the UK Supreme Court in an English case held that the difference in treatment of same sex and opposite sex couples this created meant that this was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights on equality grounds. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, civil partnerships for heterosexual couples have recently been introduced. The new Bill accordingly seeks to address this issue in Scotland.
The Bill also makes provision for married mixed sex couples to change their relationship to civil partnership status and vice versa.
Secondary legislation will now be progressed which will be necessary to allow mixed sex civil partnerships to take place. Cabinet Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, stated that she is, ‘committed to implementing this Bill as soon as possible so no-one has to wait too long to enter into a mixed sex civil partnership should they wish to do so.’
More information can be accessed via the Scottish Parliament website here