A consultation is being held in Scotland, seeking a response from the public on the future of civil partnerships within the country. This follows on from the UK Supreme Court’s recent decision that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); it does not permit opposite-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership like same-sex couples.
The consultation, which will run until the 21st December 2018, addresses two potential conclusions:
- No new civil partnership could be entered into following the ‘cut-off date’ (existing civil partners and their rights would remain unchanged); or,
- Opening civil partnership to mixed-sex couples (in the same manner as same sex-civil partnerships).
Both options are believed to be effective in removing the discrimination in place by current legislation. Following the consultation, the Scottish Government plan to introduce a bill into Scottish Parliament – either by way of a bill in the UK Parliament with a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament or by making an Order under the Convention Rights (Compliance) (Scotland) Act 2001.
The consultation has been welcomed by chief executive of Humanist Society Scotland, Gordon MacRae, who believe all couples – whether same-sex or mixed-sex – should have the option to choose civil partnership or marriage:
“We know that there is demand from opposite-sex couples who have approached Humanist Society Scotland looking for a civil partnership rather than a marriage and we believe they should be given that choice.”
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, stated that while the original judgment was in relation to civil partnerships in England and Wales, the circumstances within Scotland are very similar:
“This is very simply about ensuring equality. We must now consult on the future of civil partnership in Scotland and I would urge anyone with an interest in this area to take part.”
You can respond to the consultation here.
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