SNP urged to consider mixed-sex civil partnerships

Patrick Harvie called the Scottish Government's stance "bizarre". Picture: Greg Macvean
Patrick Harvie called the Scottish Government's stance "bizarre". Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE Scottish Government has been urged not to rule out introducing civil partnerships between men and women.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie called on Scottish ministers to reconsider their position on the issue, branding it “bizarre”.

The Government has launched a consultation reviewing civil partnerships, indicating it is “not persuaded” of the case to introduce them for mixed-sex couples.

The move follows last year’s change in the law to allow same-sex marriages in Scotland.

Other options under consideration include retaining civil partnerships for same-sex couples only or stopping new civil partnerships being entered into in the future.

READ MORE - Holyrood looks at plans to scrap civil partnerships

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Mr Harvie said: “As the member who proposed, when civil partnerships were first being debated, that when they were created they should be created on the basis of equality, open to mixed-sex couples as well as same-sex couples, I like most MSPs was very happy to welcome that principle of equality being applied to marriage.

“There is now no legal bar on same-sex couples marrying on the basis of equality, to which I think most of us agree they are entitled.

“It seems to me bizarre then that we don’t apply the same test to civil partnership.”

He added: “Can the minister confirm that if the response to this consultation comes back and shows that there is an argument, a strongly-held argument, in favour of mixed-sex civil partnerships, the Scottish Government remains open to the option?”

Local government and community empowerment minister Marco Biagi responded: “The great challenge for this Parliament has been to legislate for same-sex marriage and we’ve done so.

“This is another issue that we committed to considering and I would invite anybody who does think that way to give their views to the consultation.

“The Scottish Government’s position is that having looked at the evidence we are not persuaded that mixed-sex civil partnerships should be introduced in Scotland. Clearly it is in the consultation and we are inviting comment.

“The Government will fully consider everything that comes into the consultation.”

The Scottish Government believes there would be low demand for mixed-sex civil partnerships and that there would be issues with such partnerships being recognised outwith Scotland.

Figures published by National Records of Scotland show there were only eight civil partnerships during the second quarter of 2015, compared to 129 in the previous year.

During the same period, there were 427 same-sex marriages, of which 236 were changes from civil partnership to marriage.