Policy actions  2 of 3

Civil partnership

Background to civil partnership

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

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced marriage for same sex couples.

The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 will make civil partnership available to mixed sex couples in Scotland.

The National Records of Scotland publishes statistics on civil partnership in Scotland.

Mixed sex civil partnership

Legislation

We introduced the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament on 30 September 2019. This legislation will enable mixed sex couples to enter a civil partnership. This means that mixed sex and same sex couples will have the same choices of marriage or civil partnership.

The Bill passed Stage 3 on 23 June 2020. It became an Act on 28 July 2020.   

The decision to introduce the Bill followed a 2018 UK Supreme Court ruling. The ruling declared that the UK Civil Partnership Act 2004 was against the European Convention on Human Rights because it prevents mixed sex couples from entering into civil partnerships.

Alongside the bill we published the following impact assessments:

Making mixed sex civil partnership available in Scotland

The Scottish Parliament has published general information about how a bill comes into force

 We are working with the National Records of Scotland on the following in preparation for mixed sex civil partnership becoming available in Scotland:

Our aim is for mixed sex civil partnership registration to begin in Scotland in June 2021. 

This will depend on Parliament’s approval of the matters covered in the secondary legislation or if we need to deal with issues to do with COVID-19 at short notice. 

As part of our implementation work we have already taken forward the following secondary legislation in the Scottish Parliament:

 We will update this webpage as our work on implementation progresses. 

We also have a mixed sex civil partnership mailing list. We will send out updates at key stages as we work to introduce mixed sex civil partnership.  If you would like to be included on this list, please contact cpreview@gov.scot

Further information

Consultation

Following the 2018 UK Supreme Court ruling on the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 we consulted on the future of civil partnership in Scotland. This asked for views on two options for change: scrapping civil partnership or making it available to mixed sex couples.

Respondents told us they wanted mixed sex civil partnership to be introduced because it provides:

  • an opportunity to enter into a legally recognised relationship
  • greater rights and responsibilities for couples who don't want to marry
  • equality of choice for all couples

We have published:

This consultation led to the Scottish Ministers introducing the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament on 30 September 2019.