Fall in number of civil partnerships in Wigan

Civil partnerships in Wigan have plummeted
Civil partnerships in Wigan have plummeted

The number of couples forming civil partnerships in Wigan has plummeted since same-sex marriage was legalised, new figures reveal.

In the four years before the Same-Sex Marriage Act came into force in March 2014, there were 48 civil partnerships formed in the borough.

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But from 2014 to 2017, that number fell to just two, according to new data released by the Office For National Statistics (ONS).

There were no civil partnerships in 2014 and 2015, with just one each year in 2016 and 2017.

Both of the civil partnerships formed during that time were male couples.

Same-sex couples can choose to get married instead now, with two or three weddings carried out every month in Wigan.

Conversion ceremonies are also done for couples who have previously entered a civil partnership and now want to be married.

In Greater Manchester, there were 1,063 civil partnerships from 2010 to 2013, dropping to 148 after same-sex marriages were introduced.

Across England and Wales almost 24,000 couples entered civil partnerships between 2010 and 2013, falling to just over 4,000 in the following four years.

While it may seem civil partnerships have fallen out of favour, there were 908 new civil partnerships in England and Wales last year - a two per cent increase on the previous year.

Nicola Haines, of the ONS, said: “Despite the introduction of marriages for same-sex couples in March 2014, the number of same-sex couples choosing to form civil partnerships has increased slightly for the second consecutive year.

“Almost two-thirds of couples entering into a civil partnership in 2017 were male and more than half of all civil partners were aged 50 years or above.”

A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship which guarantees same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.

Currently, only same-sex couples can enter into civil partnerships - but in June the Supreme Court ruled that this was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court allowed heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage, after they argued that the law was discriminatory.

LGBT charity Stonewall has said despite its dwindling popularity, the civil partnership is still an important institution and should not be abolished.

Stonewall campaigns, policy and research director Paul Twocock said: “The introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 was a huge milestone for LGBT equality. For the first time, same-sex couples could have their relationships legally recognised and secure the same benefits as married couples of different sexes.”