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Scottish Civil Partnership Bill introduced

A Civil Partnership Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 30 September. The Bill, if enacted, will enable persons of different sexes to be in a civil partnership. It was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP.

In 2018 the Scottish Government consulted on two options for civil partnership in Scotland: scrapping civil partnership or making it available to mixed sex couples.

Last year, in R (ota Steinfeld and Keidan) v Secretary of State for International Development [2018] UKSC 32, the UK Supreme Court ruled 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 on equality grounds, because it denied mixed sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil partnerships, while same sex couples had the choice of either marriage or civil partnership.

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. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced marriage for same sex couples. Civil partnership ceremonies can be religious or belief, or civil. They can be registered by a registrar, or an authorised religious or belief celebrant.

Other countries where mixed sex civil partnership has already been introduced include the Netherlands and New Zealand. The UK Government has announced it will make mixed sex civil partnership available in England and Wales by the end of 2019 and will introduce through secondary legislation.

For the Scottish Bill, click here.