Civil partnership reforms for mixed sex couples

All couples to have the same choices when deciding on a legally recognised relationship. 

For the first time, mixed sex couples are to have the right to enter a civil partnership in Scotland after MSPs voted to pass the Civil Partnership Bill. 

The new legislation means that all couples in Scotland will have the same choices should they decide they want a legally recognised relationship.

Secondary legislation in the Scottish and UK Parliaments will be necessary for mixed sex civil partnerships to take place in Scotland, and this work will now be progressed.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, said:

“This legislation helps enshrine the principles of equality and freedom of choice for all couples in law.

“It means that – just like same sex couples – mixed sex couples will be able to choose between civil partnership or marriage, whichever they feel is best for them.

“This latest reform to the law demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to creating a fairer Scotland that promotes equality for all.”


The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill and further information about the legislation can be found on the Scottish Parliament website. Royal Assent will be needed for the Bill to become an Act.  

Civil partnership in Scotland was introduced for same sex couples by the Civil Partnership Act 2004. This Act extends across the UK and took effect from 5 December 2005.

Other jurisdictions where mixed sex civil partnership (or a similar relationship) is available include England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand.

In 2018 the UK Supreme Court ruled in an English case 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, because it denied mixed sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil partnerships.

Following that ruling, the Scottish Government consulted in 2018 on two options for the future of civil partnership in Scotland: scrapping civil partnership or making it available to mixed sex couples.


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