Over the past year or so the media has made much of the new “same-sex marriages”. By March 2006 6,516 same-sex couples had “married” and even celebrities like Elton John have now tied the knot.
So what is this new phenomena and why is it now possible?
It is, in fact, a myth that these are marriages. They are actually Civil Partnerships which have been possible since 5th December 2005 under the Civil Partnerships Act 2004.
Prior to that date there was no legal recognition of same-sex couples - even if they were cohabiting - and they were treated in the same way as other cohabiting couples. The difference was that couples of the opposite sex always had the opportunity to register their relationship by marrying (either by a civil or religious ceremony), but same-sex couples did not have this option.
The Civil Partnership Act came about to remedy this discrepancy.
Civil partnerships provide an opportunity for same-sex couples to register their partnership and benefit from the same treatment as married couples over a range of issues including:-