The future of civil partnership in Scotland

Yesterday saw the launch of an on-line consultation on the future of civil partnership in Scotland. The publication, Review of Civil Partnership – A consultation by the Scottish Government, follows the coming into force of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 and the introduction of same-sex marriage. The options under consideration are:

  • no change, with civil partnerships remaining available to same-sex couples only; or
  • changing the law so that no new civil partnerships could be entered into in future; or
  • introducing opposite-sex civil partnership.

The Government makes it clear that, in any event, existing civil partners will be able to remain as civil partners if they so wish: there will be no obligation for them to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

The Government states that it does not have a view at this stage on which of the first two options should be followed; however, as to opposite-sex civil partnership it says that the evidence suggests that demand would be low, that there would be limited recognition of opposite-sex civil partnerships outwith Scotland and that there would be costs involved – and points out that opposite-sex couples seeking to enter into a registered relationship already have the option of marrying.

The consultation follows the publication of data indicating that the number of civil partnerships being registered is continuing to fall. Statistics from National Records of Scotland are as follows:

2015 Quarter 2: [provisional figures]

  • 8 civil partnerships, 121 fewer than during Quarter 2 2014.
  • 7,760 opposite-sex marriages.
  • 427 same-sex marriages (of which 236 were conversions of civil partnership to marriage and 191 were new marriages).

2015 Quarter 1: [provisional figures]

  • 20 civil partnerships, 57 fewer than during Quarter 1 2014.
  • 3,427 opposite-sex marriages.
  • 462 same sex-marriages (of which 334 were were conversions of civil partnership to marriage and 128 were new marriages).


  • 436 civil partnerships (compared with 530 in 2013).
  • 28,703 opposite sex marriages.
  • 367 same-sex marriages (of which 359 were conversions of civil partnership to marriage and 8 were new marriages).

The consultation closes on 15 December.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "The future of civil partnership in Scotland" in Law & Religion UK, 23 September 2015,

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