13 December 2017
Ministers back law change for straight civil partnerships
Heterosexual couples may soon be able to enter into civil partnerships after the Government gave its backing to a change in the law.
An amendment to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is being proposed by MP Tim Loughton and is in line for its second reading in the House of Lords.
The Conservative member champions the private member's bill that could see equal civil partnership rights introduced for both gay and straight couples.
Mr Loughton's Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc) Bill is to have its second reading on February 2, 2018. It will consist of a general debate on all aspects of the proposed legislation.
Speaking to The Times newspaper, he said: "We have got approval in principle that the government is going to back it and it's just a question of getting wording sorted out, which is what I am working on at the moment.
"The government was left with no alternative, frankly, after the court judgment . . . which basically said the current position is unsustainable."
The Bill is progressing alongside a legal challenge by heterosexual couple Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, who say the current rules breach equality laws.
The couple are challenging an earlier decision ruling that only gay couples can apply for a civil partnership. The appeal will be heard at the Supreme Court next year.
The MP says extending civil partnerships to everyone may appeal to millions of unmarried couples who are unrecognised in law, many of whom have children together.
He added: "What they want is to be able to commit to each other. Officially in the eyes of the law they have no basis of doing that unless they want to go the full hog and get married, and for all sorts of reasons many of them don't.
"So this is an opportunity for more people to commit in a formal relationship recognised by the state, and that has got to be good for family stability."
Should the Bill pass its second reading, it will advance to committee stage, where members will discuss it line by line.