Belfast Telegraph

Number of civil partnerships rises to 116, figures reveal

By Tom Moseley

The popularity of civil partnerships has risen in Northern Ireland, new figures reveal.

The number of same-sex unions jumped by 21% to 116 in 2010 — up from 96 in 2009 and is the sharpest rise in the United Kingdom.

It comes more than five years after Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to allow civil partnership on 19 December, 2005.

That day, there were protests by the Free Presbyterian Church outside Belfast City Hall where two women, Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close, exchanged vows.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in England, there was an increase of 1.7% to 5,536, and 9.8% to 268 in Wales.

But in Scotland the number of civil partnerships fell by 6.6% to 465.

Meanwhile, for the first time since the legislation was |introduced, more women than men formed same-sex civil partnerships across the UK in 2010.

In Northern Ireland, 53% of partnerships were between females, compared to the UK-wide average of 51%.

Men remained, on average, older than women when forming partnerships, although the average age fell. In Northern Ireland, the average age was 38.

In Northern Ireland, 66 civil partnerships were recorded in the Belfast Health Trust area: 11 were formed in Northern and Southern, and 14 in the South Eastern and Western areas.

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