On Sunday, 26 May, the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 came into force in accordance with section 6(3) of the Act.
Section 2(1) of the Act empowers the Secretary of State, by regulations, to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 so that two persons who are not of the same sex are eligible to form a civil partnership in England and Wales (provided that they would be eligible to do so apart from the question of sex). Section 2(2) requires the Secretary of State to exercise that power so that such regulations are in force no later than 31 December 2019.
In short this means that once the new law becomes operational then heterosexual couples will be free to form ‘civil partnerships’. The civil partnership regulations had come under increased criticism after they were introduced to try and give gay couples similar matrimonial rights to heterosexual couples, but then criticism was directed at this claiming that it continued to differentiate between gay and heterosexual marriages simply because the law had a different name. To try and balance the rights of both heterosexual and gay couples the Government now allows both to enter into ‘civil partnerships’. It is hoped that any stigma associated with the name ‘civil partnership’ is now removed.