In March and September 2017, we reported on civil partnerships and the journey to achieve equality in civil partnerships for all, regardless of sexual orientation. Now, more than three million heterosexual couples could be allowed to form a civil partnership under Government backed proposals. A bill proposed by the Conservative MP Tim Loughton received an unopposed second reading last week. If passed, Mr Loughton said that the legislation would “correct an unintended but glaring inequality” between same sex couples and heterosexual couples. Extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples is one of five planks of The Times ‘Family Matters campaign for reform of family laws. Interestingly, the gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell said such legislation would be treated with dismay by the LGBT community and provoke an almighty backlash. However, the campaign group Equal Civil Partnerships said in a statement that “ the current situation is manifestly unfair, unpopular and leaves (heterosexual) families unprotected” when the parents are simply living together and have no discernible ‘rights’, unlike same sex civil partnerships where many rights to claims against each other’s property and assets are enjoyed. The bill also called for a move away from a paper-based marriage registration system to a single electronic register, which the Home Office predicts would save £34 million over ten years. In addition the bill also proposes that a mother’s name and occupation should appear on her child’s marriage certificate, alongside the father’s, to give mothers equal recognition.

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