Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

This CRWIA considers the impact of the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill on children and young people.

CRWIA – Stage 3

CRWIA title: Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
Date of publication: October 2019

Executive summary

The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill will make civil partnership available to mixed sex couples. Mixed sex civil partnership will be modelled on same sex civil partnership, although in some areas biological factors mean that the mixed sex marriage model will be followed.


In June 2018, the UK Supreme Court issued a judgment on civil partnership in England and Wales:

Following this judgment, the Scottish Government carried out a consultation on the future of civil partnership in Scotland. After this consultation, the Scottish Government decided that the best way forward would be to make civil partnership available to all couples in Scotland.

Scope of the CRWIA,
identifying the children and young people affected by the policy, and summarising the evidence base

The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill could have implications for the following groups of children and young people:

  • People aged 16 or 17 who wish to enter a mixed sex civil partnership.
  • Existing children whose parents decide to enter into a mixed sex civil partnership and children born to parents who are in a mixed sex civil partnership.
  • Young people, including young people who lack capacity, who are at risk of being forced into a civil partnership.

Children and young people’s views and experiences

In their response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of civil partnership in Scotland (, LGBT Youth expressed their support the extension of civil partnership to mixed sex couples. The response is available at

The LGBT Youth consultation response referred to scoping studies it conducted on civil partnership in 2015 and 2018. In 2015, 100% of respondents agreed that civil partnership should be extended to mixed sex couples. In 2018, 95% of those surveyed agreed with extension. In the 2018 survey, some of those who responded expressed concerns about being outed should it become known that they are in a civil partnership.

16 and 17 year old uptake of same sex civil partnership is low. From 2005 to 2018, there were 3 civil partnerships where one party was 16 or 17. There were no civil partnerships during that period where both parties were 16 or 17.

Statistics from the joint Home Office-Foreign and Commonwealth Office indicate that just over one third of forced marriages involve young people under the age of 18: (see pages 3 and 9).

Key Findings, including an assessment of the impact on children’s rights, and how the measure will contribute to children’s wellbeing

Relevant UNCRC Articles

Article 11.1

1. States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.

Article 19.1

States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Article 23.1

1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.

The Scottish Government’s view is that the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill will generally have a positive impact on children’s rights and wellbeing. It will do so by:

  • Providing safeguards against violence by creating the offence of forced civil partnership

The Scottish Government notes that the extension of civil partnership to mixed sex couples may create a loophole in the law. However, the inclusion of a criminal measure in the Bill, with a civil measure to follow in secondary legislation, will close this loophole and safeguard children’s rights and wellbeing. This will help the Scottish Government safeguard and support the wellbeing of children and young people and contribute to the incorporation of the UNCRC into the law of Scotland.

Monitoring and review

The Scottish Government will monitor the number of prosecutions and convictions for the offence of forced marriage or civil partnership in section 122 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Our intention is also to work with third sector organisations that provide support to victims of forced relationships, as victims may not always interact with Government services. This will help determine what, if anything, the Scottish Government can do to prevent forced civil partnerships from occurring, and to support victims more effectively.

Bill – Section

Section 11

Aims of measure

The creation of the offence of forced civil partnership

Likely to impact on . . .

Young people and children at risk of a forced relationship, including young women and girls and children who lack capacity.

Compliance with UNCRC requirements

Article 11.1
Article 19.1
Article 23

Contribution to local duties to safeguard, support and promote child wellbeing

These provisions relate to the following wellbeing indicators:

CRWIA Declaration


Policy lead
Sarah Meanley
Family Law
Civil Law and Legal System
Justice Directorate


Gavin Henderson
Deputy Director
Civil Law and Legal System
Justice Directorate




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