Publication - Research publication

Civil partnerships in Scotland: consultation analysis

Published: 5 Aug 2016

Analysis of responses to the consultation on civil partnerships in Scotland.

30 page PDF

401.9 kB

30 page PDF

401.9 kB

Civil partnerships in Scotland: consultation analysis

30 page PDF

401.9 kB


The Scottish Government published a consultation paper 'Review of Civil Partnership - A consultation by the Scottish Government' on 22 September 2015. The consultation ran until 15 December 2015. The consultation paper can be accessed at: This report presents an analysis of the consultation responses received.

The report uses the term "opposite sex" - as in "opposite sex" civil partnership - reflecting the language used in the consultation paper. An alternative term sometimes used is "mixed sex". The report also refers to "converting" civil partnerships to marriage. The term "converting" is often used, including by those responding to the consultation, and is the official term used in England and Wales. It should be noted, however, that in Scotland the official term is "changing" a civil partnership into marriage.

Background to the consultation

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force across the UK in December 2005 and allows same sex couples to form a civil partnership and enjoy similar rights and responsibilities to that of a married couple.

Issues relating to civil status are a devolved matter, meaning that the Scottish Parliament can determine: who can enter a civil partnership; the process for registering a civil partnership; and the rules on dissolution. Similarly, the Scottish Parliament could make changes to the status of civil partnership in Scotland.

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 is now largely in force and has introduced same sex marriage and the religious and belief registration of civil partnerships to Scotland. It has also made other changes to marriage and civil partnership law, including amending the Gender Recognition Act 2004 so that a married person seeking gender recognition does not have to divorce.

During the Parliamentary passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, the Scottish Government said it would carry out a review of civil partnership in Scotland [1] . This consultation is part of that review and is designed to enable civic society across Scotland to contribute to the discussion.

The three options outlined in the consultation paper are:

  • No change, so that civil partnerships would remain available for same sex couples only.
  • No more new civil partnerships to be entered into in Scotland, from a date in the future. People already in a civil partnership could stay in them, if they wish.
  • The introduction of opposite sex civil partnership.

Profile of respondents

In total, 411 responses were received: 405 were submitted through the Scottish Government's Citizen Space consultation page, and the remaining 6 respondents submitted hard copy responses.

Individual members of the public submitted the very significant majority of responses (93%). Groups or organisations submitted the remaining 7% of responses. A list of the groups that submitted a response is provided at Annex A to this report.

A breakdown of respondents by respondent type is set out in the table below.

Number of respondents by type

Respondent Type
Community organisation 1
Local government 4
Public body 2
Religious or belief body or organisation 9
Representative body for professionals 2
Third sector or equality organisation 11
Groups (Total) 29
Individuals 382

Of the 411 respondents, 387 gave permission for their response to be published.

Analysis and reporting

This report presents a question-by-question analysis of comments received. Reflecting the nature of the questions asked, the analysis is qualitative and focuses on setting out the range of issues raised by respondents.

Responses were varied in length and complexity. All comments have been taken into account. However, to avoid duplication, they have been considered under the question to which they were most directly relevant. This applies particularly to comments on opposite sex civil partnership. These formed the bulk of the comments submitted and have been reported under Question 5.


Email: Alison Stout,