Scotland politics

New law to expand scope of civil partnerships in Scotland

Mixed sex couple Image copyright Getty Images

A new law which will enable heterosexual couples to marry in civil partnerships has been lodged at the Scottish Parliament.

It means mixed-sex partners will have the same choices of marriage or civil partnerships as same-sex couples.

The bill came about after a Supreme Court ruling which found that the existing UK law went against the European Convention on Human Rights.

Civil partnerships were first made available to same-sex couples in 2005.

Last year, the Scottish government consulted on two options following the ruling - whether to extend civil partnerships or to scrap them.

'Same choices'

After considering all 481 responses, ministers decided to make the partnerships - which offer the same legal and financial protection as marriage - available to everyone.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the legislation would allow all couples to make the same choices.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan appealed to the Supreme Court to allow them to enter a civil partnership after the Court of Appeal rejected their claim in February 2017

She said: "Fundamentally, extending civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples is about equality, fairness and choice.

"This bill means all couples will have the same choices if they decide they want to make a lasting commitment to each other through a legally-recognised relationship.

"Just like same-sex couples, mixed-sex couples will be able to choose to enter into a civil partnership if they feel this is right for them."

Following the Supreme Court ruling in favour of campaigners Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan last June, the UK government also plans to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples.

Other countries where mixed-sex civil partnerships have already been brought in include the Netherlands and New Zealand.