The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, which will enable mixed sex couples to enjoy a legally recognised relationship without being married, has passed its first stage in the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs agreed without a vote to support the general principles of the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, which will extend to mixed sex couples the rights given to same sex couples in 2004.

The Scottish Government accepted the need for the bill following a UK Supreme Court ruling in an English appeal that it discriminated against mixed sex couples for them not to have the choice of marriage or civil partnership that is now open to same sex couples.

After the debate, which took place with some members joing in remotely, Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I welcome Parliament’s endorsement of the general principles of the bill, which will give all couples the same choices when they decide they want to make a lasting commitment to each other through a legally recognised relationship.

“Just like same sex couples, mixed sex couples will be able to choose to enter into a civil partnership or a marriage if they feel this is right for them.

“Fundamentally this Bill is about equality, fairness and choice and is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to create a fairer Scotland that promotes equality and human rights for all.”