Straight civil partnerships '˜could damage Scots society'

The prospect of men and women being allowed to form civil partnerships has met with opposition among Scots who fear it could undermine traditional marriage and prove 'detrimental' to society .

Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld outside the High Court in London. Picture: Ben Pruchnie/Getty
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld outside the High Court in London. Picture: Ben Pruchnie/Getty

Currently only gay couples can enter into civil partnerships and a wide-ranging Government consultation which looked at extending this to heterosexual people attracted hundreds of responses.

Earlier this year heterosexual couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, from London, who want to have a civil partnership rather than get married, lost a legal challenge. They appealed after being told in 2014 that they could not have a civil partnership because they did not meet the legal requirement of being of the same sex.

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The Scottish Government itself is not in favour of the move as it fears that take-up will be low. The consultation into civil partnerships in Scotland was launched after ministers proposed scrapping them because the introduction of gay marriage means they are no longer deemed necessary.

But it also looked making them available for all couples in Scotland, regardless of their sexual orientation, prompting 360 responses voicing opposition as well as support.

“The majority of those opposing the introduction of opposite sex civil partnership focused on defending the institution of opposite sex marriage,” the consultation states.

The “long-standing, established” nature of marriage which sees couples make a “lifelong commitment” to each other were at the centre of these concerns, according to the consultation.

“Opposite sex civil partnership would not require an equivalent level of commitment to marriage and, in consequence, would be less likely to result in long-standing, stable unions.

“This would be particularly detrimental to any children of these unions and, by extension, to wider society.

“It was suggested that opening up of civil partnership to opposite sex couples is the only way to remove sexual orientation discrimination from the law on marriage and civil partnership, without removing the important and valued choice of civil partnership from same-sex couples.”

The government’s plans to end civil partnerships met with some opposition in the consultation among Scots who say that other countries which have introduced gay marriage have continued to see a demand for civil partnerships which provide a choice. There are also concerns that halting any new civil partnerships could undermine the legitimacy and status of those that already exist.