When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Civil partnerships dip as shake-up prepared
THE number of civil partnerships is on the slide across Hampshire – ahead of a review that could see the unions scrapped.
Official figures showed that 37 gay and lesbian couples tied the knot in Southampton last year, a small decline on the number who entered into partnerships in 2011.
And there was a big fall in the rest of Hampshire – from 112 to 85 last year. However, in the Isle of Wight, the total rose slightly, from 14 to 16.
The figures were released ahead of a 12-week public consultation that could see civil partnerships abolished – or even extended to opposite-sex couples.
David Cameron was forced to concede the review in the summer, during the furore over the Bill to legalise gay marriages, which will go ahead from next year.
The prime minister struck a deal with Labour to save the legislation, after Ed Miliband joined Tory rebels in arguing for men and women to be allowed civil partnerships.
Such a move would trigger complicated, and hugely expensive, pension and other rights, ministers claimed – costing up to £4bn and forcing a two-year delay.
As a result, the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS) will launch the consultation within the next few weeks, before making a decision in late 2014.
Back in the summer, a Government source said of the review: “How civil partnerships work and whether they continue to exist – the whole thing will be up for grabs.”
The statistics showthat, of the 34 partnerships in Southampton last year, 20 were lesbian couples and 14 were gay men.
Across Hampshire, the unions were also more popular with women, who accounted for 48 partnerships, with 37 chosen by men.
The number of partnerships dissolved in England and Wales leapt by 20 per cent last year – to 794 – but no figures were provided for each local authority.
Around 60,000 ceremonies have been conducted in the UK since legalisation in 2005, giving same-sex couples the same property and tax rights as traditional marriages.
If civil partnerships were abolished, people who had already entered into the unions would not see them annulled, but no more would take place in future.
Any move to abolish them would be certain to run into opposition – for example, among lesbians, some of whom do not want to get married.
A DCMS spokeswoman said: “A 12-week public consultation into the future of civil partnerships will start by the end of this year, which will also look at whether to extend them to opposite-sex couples.”
Comments are closed on this article.