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UK gay civil partner rates hint marriage will be a hit

UK gay civil partner rates hint marriage will be a hit

The number of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the UK forming civil partnerships is already more than the government expected by 2050 and is still increasing.

Meanwhile the divorce rate for civil partners has also shot up by 20% in the last year.

The British Government originally expected fewer than 90,000 people to be in the partnerships by 2050. But with 120,908 civil partners across the country by the end of 2012, that ‘high take-up estimation’ has been left far behind.

In 2012, same-sex couples formed 7,037 civil partnerships, compared with 6,795 in 2011 – a 3.6% increase.

The biggest regional increase was in Northern Ireland, where there was a 13% rise in forming partnerships. The country is tailing behind other parts of the UK in moving ahead with full same-sex marriage laws.

But 794 partnerships ended in dissolution – the civil partnership term for divorce. That is a 20% increase on previous years.

A spokesman for the UK’s Office for National Statistics told Gay Star News this increase, while high, is not surprising.

He said: ‘It is to be expected that it would continue to rise. As the number of people in civil partnerships increases each year, the dissolutions will keep rising for quite a while.’

This means same-sex dissolutions are moving towards similar levels for heterosexual divorces, not that gay and lesbian couples are any more or less likely to split up.

Today’s figures hint same-sex marriage is likely to be highly popular.

The law has already passed in England and Wales and will be implemented next year. In Scotland, the parliament is moving forward with legislation and it could be law there too by summer 2014.

Richard Lane, media manager at leading British gay campaign organization Stonewall, told GSN: ‘The continued popularity of civil partnerships, which have far exceeded original government estimates, once again shows up claims made by opponents of equality that same-sex relationships are not as loving and committed as opposite-sex relationships.

‘We’re sure that demand for equal marriage will similarly exceed expectations and defy the doubters when it is introduced next year.’

Existing civil partners will be able to convert to full marriage if they want to. Meanwhile the government will consult on whether to keep civil partnerships.

The average age of men tying the knot in 2012 was 40-years-old, while women were doing it at a little over 37-years-old. Both figures show a slight drop in the age of civil partners on previous years.

Initially men were becoming civil partners in their mid 50s and women in their late 40s on average. Those figures were skewed because of the large number of long-term couples who had not been able to make a similar commitment before.

But many younger people, from mid 20s to late 30s are also tying the knot. The graph below shows civil partnerships by age and gender in 2012.

Finally the figures show summer weddings are still in vogue. July to September remain by far the most popular months for civil partnership ceremonies.

The figures were compiled by the Office for National Statistics who yesterday were criticized for massively underestimating the total number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain.