Scottish Civil Partnership Bill introduced

In 2018 we reported on the case of R (ota Steinfeld and Keidan) v Secretary of State for International Development [2018] UKSC 32, which concerned a heterosexual couple who were taking the Government to court on the basis that they were not allowed to enter into a Civil Partnership.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 allowed same sex couples to formally enter into a legal union as at the time they could not marry. However, in 2014 the law was changed to allow same sex couples the option to marry or enter into a civil partnership. This same choice was not extended to heterosexual couples, hence the challenge by Mr Steinfeld and Ms Keidan.

Their case in 2018 went all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled that the introduction of same sex marriage had resulted in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 no longer being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights on equality grounds, because it denied mixed sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil partnerships, while same sex couples had the choice of either marriage or civil partnership.

Now Scotland has taken the first step to address this issue with a new Civil Partnership Bill being introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 30 September. The Bill, if enacted, will enable persons of different sexes to be in a civil partnership. It was introduced by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP.

The UK Government has announced it will make mixed sex civil partnership available in England and Wales by the end of 2019 and will introduce thorough secondary legislation. However with the focus of Parliament appearing to be on Brexit alone, we are yet to see if they keep to their promise.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email