Civil Partnerships

Definition

Civil Partnership is the legal recognition of same-sex relationships. It is not 'marriage' in the religious sense of the word, but it gives lesbian and gay couples the same legal benefits as heterosexual married couples.

Click here to download 'Get Hitched! A Guide to Civil Partnerships.'

Background information

On 17 November 2004 the House of Lords voted to introduce the Civil Partnership Bill for same-sex couples. The key vote was won by 251 votes to 136. Adult same-sex couples who are not in an existing registered partnership or marriage, and are not closely related, are eligible to register their partnership. The Civil Partnership Act cameinto effect on 5th December 2005.

Same-sex couples can register their partnership in a similar service to that already enjoyed by heterosexual couples who choose to marry in a registery office service. In Cardiff, the City Council took the initiative to work with LGB people to develop a ceremony format.

It will be possible to hold civil partnership ceremonies in exactly the same venues as civil weddings, from registry offices to stately homes.

Rights and Responsibilities

Same-sex couples will have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. Among these rights are:

  • The right to claim survivors' pension in the event of a partners death
  • Joint treatment for income related benefits
  • Legal recognition as next of kin.
  • Following the death of a partner the surviving partner will have the right to register the death of their partner, and will be eligible for bereavement benefits and can apply for compensation for fatal accidents or criminal injuries.
  • Recognition under inheritance and intestacy rules, and the right to inherit surviving partners' estate.
  • Tenancy succession rights
  • Parental responsibility for each other's children
  • Exemption from testifying against each other in court.
  • Ending the partnership

Same-sex partners are legally bound in the same way as married couples are, therefore, dissolving the partnership will follow a similar court-based procedure.

Click here to download Stonewall's guide to Civil Partnerships.

Click here for more information about Civil Partnerships.

For Media reporting of Civil Partnerships

  • Some religious organisations believe civil partnerships devalue the sanctity of marriage. Yet, civil partnerships do not pose a threat to marriage. Lesbians, gay men and bisexual people have loving, stable relationships just like anyone else. The Civil Partnership Act will make it possible for same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities, and the same legal responsibilities as heterosexual married couples.
  • Until the Civil Partnership Act became law same-sex couples had no pension rights, often had their homes threatened or lost to inheritance tax and had no status as next of kin in the event of the death of one partner. The Civil Partnership Act awards equal treatment and legal recognition to same-sex couples.
  • LookOut can provide you with accurate information about civil partnerships, case studies and details of potential interviewees.

Points to consider

'Gay marriage' - Civil Partnership is not a marriage in the religious sense. Some religious organisations use this term in a derogatory, almost mocking way.

'Homosexual: Considered by some in the LGB community to be a derogatory and offensive term. It originates from a medical definition when same-sex attraction/relationships were construed as mental illness. Use: gay, lesbian, gay man/woman, bisexual, bisexual man/woman or the acronym LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual).


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