In a significant announcement on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that heterosexual couples in England and Wales will also be given right to enter into civil partnerships rather than marriage.
The announcement means that unmarried couples and their families will now have greater security as the move will also address the ‘imbalance’ that allows same-sex couples to enter a civil partnership or get married – a choice denied to heterosexual couples, said a BBC report.
The British government’s announcement has after the current system was found in June to be in breach of European law.
The British Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of 37-year-old Rebecca Steinfeld and 41-year-old Charles Keidan from London, who launched their own legal bid to be allowed to have a civil partnership. The couple, who have two young daughters, were prevented from having the union because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 said only same-sex couples were eligible.
“This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don’t necessarily want to get married. As home secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage.
“Now, by extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life,” May was quoted by London’s Sky News.
There are over 3.3 million unmarried couple families in the UK living together with shared financial responsibilities and nearly half of them with children. These households do not have the same legal protections as those who have a civil partnership or marriage.
The chair of the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, Martin Loat, was quoted by Guardian website, “It’s great news but let’s get on with it. What’s missing in the announcement is a timeline.”