The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) 2019 received Royal Assent on 26 March 2019. The new Act of Parliament will extend civil-partnerships to heterosexual couples in England and Wales. It is a huge victory for equal civil partnership campaigners who argued that the law discriminated against couples based on their sex.
The new legislation comes after the Supreme Court unanimously decided in the case of R(on the application of Steinfeld and Keidan) v Secretary of State for International Development , that the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which only permits same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Campaigners argued that there was urgent need for reform of the law to reflect the changing attitudes towards marriage and cohabitation. Statistics from 2017 showed that 3.3 million cohabiting couples were not married and 60% of these couples had dependent children.
It is estimated that two thirds of couples who cohabit incorrectly believe they have the same rights as married couples or couples in a civil partnership. The new legislation will provide an alternative to marriage that provides couples with both stability and legal protection.