Mixed sex couples will be able to enter a civil partnership under a new bill just introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Ministers are promoting the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill in order to comply with last year's ruling of the UK Supreme Court, that the introduction of same sex marriage had resulted in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 no longer being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights on equality grounds, because it denied mixed sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil partnerships, while same sex couples had the choice of either marriage or civil partnership.

The Scottish Government consulted on whether to abolish civil partnership or make it available to mixed sex couples, though it has not disclosed the balance of opinion in the responses received. 

Mixed sex civil partnership has already been introduced in the Netherlands and New Zealand, and the UK Government has announced it will make mixed sex civil partnership available in England & Wales by the end of 2019.

Civil partnership ceremonies can be religious or belief, or civil. They can be registered by a registrar, or an authorised religious or belief celebrant.

The bill makes no change to the law of cohabitation.

Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “This bill means all couples will have the same choices if 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 if they feel this is right for them.

“The Scottish Government is creating an inclusive Scotland that promotes equality of choice and human rights for all. This legislation is part of that goal.”

Click here to access the bill and related papers.