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Views sought on extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples

Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said the proposal was about ‘ensuring equality’.

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Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won a court fight to extend civil partnerships to all couples (Victoria Jones/PA)

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won a court fight to extend civil partnerships to all couples (Victoria Jones/PA)

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won a court fight to extend civil partnerships to all couples (Victoria Jones/PA)

A consultation is being held on the possibility of civil partnerships being available to opposite-sex couples in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is seeking public views on the issue following a UK Supreme Court ruling that legislation governing civil partnerships in the UK is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as only same-sex couples can enter the partnerships.

This is very simply about ensuring equalityShirley-Anne Somerville MSP

The consultation puts forwards two options – retaining the status quo or opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.

Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “This is very simply about ensuring equality.

“The Supreme Court made it clear that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights because civil partnership is open to same-sex couples only whereas marriage is open to everyone.

“That judgment related to England and Wales but the facts and circumstances in Scotland are very similar.

“Therefore, we must now consult on the future of civil partnership in Scotland and I would urge anyone with an interest in this area to take part.”

Equalities campaigners Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan won their Supreme Court challenge in June when justices ruled the Civil Partnership Act’s restriction to same sex couples is discriminatory.

Scottish Green equalities spokesman Patrick Harvie called for people to back an extension of civil partnerships.

He said: “The Supreme Court ruling was very welcome, challenging the lack of choice available to mixed-sex couples.

“The way to correct this is not to roll back the clock and restrict that choice for everyone, but to allow all couples to choose what’s right for them: marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation.

“Anything else would be a return to the bad old days, when the government decided what the best family structure was and simply imposed it on people.”

The government consultation closes on December 21 and the government has pledged to then take a decision to ensure future compatibility with the ECHR.

PA


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