Theresa May: Government will bring in civil partnerships for heterosexual couples
Heterosexual couples will soon be able to enter in to civil partnerships for the first time, Theresa May has announced.
The change in rules will end the anomaly of those in gay relationships being able to form a civil partnership or get married, while opposite-sex couples can only opt for the latter.
Legal action launched by campaigners earlier this year led to the Civil Partnerships Act from 2004 being ruled as incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Gay couples have been able to get married in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014.
Ministers say some 3.3 million couples in the UK live together but are not married - nearly half of them with children.
The change could give households, who often also share financial responsibilities, the same legal rights offered by marriage or civil partnerships.
As it stands cohabiting partners are not eligible for tax reliefs and exemptions for spouses and civil partners, including the inheritance tax exemption and the marriage income tax allowance.
Furthermore, a surviving cohabitant has no automatic right to inherit their partner's estate after they die.
Unveiling the move at the Conservative conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister said: “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.”
Equalities minster Penny Mordaunt said: "This is an important step forward for equality. There are all sorts of reasons why people may choose not to marry.
“By giving couples this option we hope to give them and their families more certainty and security.
“I pay tribute to all who have campaigned for this change and will introduce the change as swiftly as possible."
Campaigner Peter Tatchell hailed the announcement as "wonderful news".
He said: "We thank the government for listening to the judges, human rights law and the appeals of the many unmarried opposite-sex couples who want a civil partnership."