Mixed sex Wigan couples make the most of civil partnership changes

Dozens of people in Wigan have formed mixed-sex civil partnerships since they first became eligible to do so - but same sex ceremonies have waned.

Mixed sex civil partnerships have eclipsed same sex ones
Mixed sex civil partnerships have eclipsed same sex ones

A law has enabled eligible opposite-sex couples to form a civil partnership since December 2019, and the first of these in England and Wales took place on December 31 that year.

Office for National Statistics figures show 13 opposite-sex couples in Wigan formed civil partnerships in 2020.

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Previously, only same-sex couples could enter into civil partnerships, but in June 2018, 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.

A spokeswoman from the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign group said the coronavirus pandemic meant 2020 was not the ideal first year for mixed-sex civil partnerships that was hoped for.

The popularity of same-sex civil partnerships across England and Wales has plummeted since the first legalised gay marriages took place in 2014. In 2020, just 785 took place – the lowest figure since they were introduced in 2005.

An ONS spokesman said: “There were almost 10 times as many partnerships between opposite-sex couples than same-sex couples in 2020.

“Same-sex civil partnerships in England reached a record low in 2020 and may have been driven by the pandemic restrictions, where registrations services were temporarily suspended.”

There were no same-sex civil partnerships in Wigan in 2020.

The total number was down from one in 2019 – and the lowest since comparable records began in 2008.

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Civil partnerships for gay couples in the area peaked in 2009, when there were 23.

There were 671 same-sex civil partnership dissolutions granted in England and Wales in 2020, with 54 per cent of these to female couples.

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