Opposite-sex Civil Partnerships Bill could be made law “within six months”

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The Bill seeking to provide opposite-sex couples with the legal right to enter into a civil partnership has completed its passage through the House of Commons.

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill is the product of months of tireless campaigning to extend civil partnerships to all couples in England and Wales.

Currently, only marriage affords opposite-sex couples important legal rights such as financial protections in separation.

The case for opposite-sex civil partnerships was heard before the Supreme Court in July 2018, which ruled that current legislation is “incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights to the extent that it precludes opposite-sex couples from entering into civil partnerships”.

The Bill also seeks to make provision about the registration of the names of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership, as well as the provision about the registration of stillborn deaths and gives coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths.

The Bill has now secured its third reading in the House of Commons without the need for a vote and will move to the House of Lords to be scrutinised.

Bringing the Bill before the Lords, MP Tim Loughton said: “Since the Supreme Court’s announcement, it has been clear the direction Government policy would need to move in but there was growing frustration with the lack of timetable or indeed urgency.”

He added that smooth passage in the House of Lords would mean that the law will be written into legislation within six months.

The latest figures suggest that there are around 3.3 million cohabiting couples currently residing in England and Wales who are living without basic legal protections, such as access to their partner’s property or assets in the event of death or financial remediation on separation.

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