The recent decision by the UK Supreme Court in a judicial review in England and Wales means that the Scottish Government is required now to consider the future of civil partnership in Scotland.
The Supreme Court made it clear that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights as civil partnership is open to same sex couples only whereas marriage is open to both opposite sex couples and same sex couples. The judgment of the Supreme Court relates specifically to England and Wales but the facts and circumstances in Scotland are very similar.
Therefore, the Scottish Government is consulting now on the future of civil partnership in Scotland. This consultation outlines two options.
The first option would be to make provision laying down that no new civil partnerships could be entered into in Scotland from a date in the future. Existing civil partners could remain in their civil partnership if they wish and would continue to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as they do now.
The second option would be the introduction of opposite sex civil partnership. Opposite sex civil partnership would be along the same lines as same sex civil partnership.
Once the responses to this consultation have been analysed, the Scottish Government will take a decision on the way ahead and legislate. We will legislate by introducing a Bill into the Scottish Parliament, by making an Order under the Convention Rights (Compliance) (Scotland) Act 2001, or by way of a Bill in the UK Parliament with a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government will take a swift decision on the best legislative route once the consultation closes.
I look forward to hearing your views.
Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People