Civil Partnership Bill Offers Equality of Opportunity for Couples

Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the passing of legislation that will allow mixed-sex couples to enter a civil partnership in Scotland for the first time.

The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill which now allows all couples to have the same choice when deciding to legally recognise their relationship.

During the legislative process, evidence was presented over months to Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, which is Convened by the SNP MSP.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Maguire said: “Mixed-sex civil partnerships are necessary to ensure all couples have access to important legal rights that are currently only available through marriage.

“For many mixed-sex couples, the choice of marriage or cohabitation is not real choice, but a decision between acting against their own deeply held convictions, or accepting a lesser, legal position.”

Providing further comment, the MSP for Cunninghame South said: “I’d like to thank all individuals and organisations for sharing their evidence and experiences in the creation of this Bill.

“Some of the most powerful evidence came from the personal testimonies that were shared with the Committee during this process.

“I’m delighted that all couples in Scotland will now have equality of opportunity to legally recognise their relationship in a way that best suits them.”

The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill and further information about the legislation can be found on the Scottish Parliament website. Royal Assent will be needed for the Bill to become an Act.

Civil partnership in Scotland was introduced for same sex couples by the Civil Partnership Act 2004. This Act extends across the UK and took effect from 5 December 2005.

Other jurisdictions where mixed sex civil partnership (or a similar relationship) is available include England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand.

In 2018 the UK Supreme Court ruled in an English case that the introduction of same sex marriage had resulted in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 no longer being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, because it denied mixed sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil partnerships.

Following that ruling, the Scottish Government consulted in 2018 on two options for the future of civil partnership in Scotland: scrapping civil partnership or making it available to mixed sex couples.

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