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Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill fails in Commons

Government talks out Bill

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Tim Loughton MP, has failed at its second reading in the House of Commons. The Bill, if enacted, would have amended the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to provide that opposite sex couples may enter a civil partnership.

In the debate Mr Loughton, explaining the need for the legislation, said:

"There are a whole lot of complex motives as to why many of our constituents do not go down the formal marriage route. They are mostly still in committed, loving relationships, but if they do not want to go for traditional marriage, they have no way of having those relationships recognised in the eyes of the state, just as was the case for same-sex couples pre-2004."

Mr Loughton said that there existed an inequality between heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Rober Halfon MP, for the government, referred to the 2014 consultation:

"There were 11,500 respondents, 76% of whom opposed extending civil partnerships. The Government's position is that we want to see what happens and to look at the data before taking any further decisions on the matter."

He also noted legal proceedings in which judgment is awaited. In January 2016, in Steinfeld and Keidan v Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin) an opposite sex couple lost their claim for judicial review of the ban on civil partnership for opposite sex couples. The couple have appealed to the Court of Appeal: the hearing took place in early November 2016, but the judgment has not yet been promulgated.

The second reading debate was adjourned without a vote.

The House of Commons Library had published, in advance of the second reading debate, a briefing paper considering the calls for civil partnership to be made available to opposite sex couples. For the report, click here.

For the Bill, click here. For the second reading debate, click here.