More British gay couples are having civil partnerships despite the government’s pledge to bring in full marriage equality
New figures published by the UK’s Office of National Statistics today (31 July) show that the partnerships, which offer the same rights as full marriage to same-sex couples but are not equal to it, remain popular.
And the massive popularity of the partnerships indicate that gay marriage is likely to prove very popular when it is introduced.
In 2011, 6,795 civil partnerships were formed – an increase of 6.4% since 2010 although the rates are still not as high as in the boom year of 2006 when the partnerships had just been made legal.
The number of divorces, called ‘disillusions’, also went up. But that is in line with expectations, the government statisticians said, as the number of people living in civil partnerships continues to increase.
By the end of 2011, 2.2% of male civil partnerships and 4.6% of lesbian partnerships had ended in dissolution. But that’s still less than the average divorce rate for heterosexual couples of 33% of marriages ending within 15 years.
But it’s the sheer number of people in civil partnerships which has taken the UK government by surprise.
There are almost 107,000 civil partners (or more than 53,000 couples) now. Officials originally estimated there would be a maximum of 22,000 people in the unions by 2010.
That indicates that pledges to introduce full same-sex marriage equality in England and Wales by 2015, and possibly sooner in Scotland, will be a hit.
Ruth Hunt, from Stonewall, the UK's leading gay campaign organization, said: ‘We’re delighted that civil partnerships have proved to be so popular, both with same-sex couples and in wider society.
'YouGov polling for Stonewall shows four in five people across Britain support civil partnerships, and seven in ten support equal marriage. This modest step towards full equality needn’t take much parliamentary time. It’s time for the government to get on with it.’