Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament in July 2013 and came into force on 13 March 2014. Scottish Parliament passed legislation in February 2014 which took effect on 16 December 2014. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland. .
** UPDATE July 2019 – Although same sex marriage is currently still illegal in Northern Ireland steps are underway to change this; more information can be found here.
in UK Law, the Civil Partnership Act 2004, allows Same Sex couples to have a ‘Civil Partnership’ ceremony, which is very similar to a registry office wedding. The Civil Partnership Act came into force on the 5th December 2005, allowing for ceremonies to take place from the 21st December, 2005.
The service is actually performed by a registrar in a registry office or licensed wedding venue, and this ceremony will give the couple all of the same rights in law that a married couple receive.
Having got over the first hurdle, you may well be asking “Where do we go from here?”
Here are some answers to some general questions which we hope will help get the all important preparations underway.
Hurrah! There HAS been a change in the Law which allows same sex couples to have a ‘Civil Partnership’ ceremony, which is very similar to a registry office wedding.
The Civil Partnership Act came into force on the 5th, allowing for ceremonies to take place from the 21st December 2005.
The service is actually performed by a registrar, and this ceremony will give the couple all of the same rights in law that a married couple receive. Financially, this can help to stabilise same sex couples lives, and can mean benefits such as pensions or exemption from inheritance tax on their partners property, should the unfortunate occur. The new law will even allow the dissolve of this agreement, by way of a divorce.
The Civil Partnership Act is a massive step forward within the gay community – it will give gay couples the same property and inheritance rights as married heterosexuals and entitles them to the same pension, immigration and tax benefits but, unlike in Belgium, Spain and Canada, it is not a marriage. The procedure is ‘civil’ in Britain, with the partners merely signing documents, whereas a marriage becomes binding when partners exchange spoken words in a civil or religious ceremony.
Civil partners will have equal treatment in a wide range of legal matters with married couples, including:-
Tax, including inheritance tax
Most state and occupational pension benefits
Income related benefits, tax credits and child support
Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partners and any children of the family
Ability to apply for parental responsibility for your civil partner’s child
Inheritance of a tenancy agreement
Recognition under intestacy rules
Access to fatal accidents compensation
Protection from domestic violence
Recognition from immigration and nationality purposes
We’ve decided to
Where do we start?
You have to make some fundamental decisions early on – such as:-
whether you want a small private ceremony or a big do
how much you can afford to spend
who you want to invite
where you want to do the deed.
You will need to choose a venue that is licensed for Civil Partnerships (any of those that are licensed for civil marriages will be able to do this too) and make a provisional booking before contacting your local Register Office to book the services of a Registrar.
Then you can start planning the details of the ceremony, the guest list, catering, entertainment, transport and so on, and organising a day to celebrate your Partnership in style and leave your guests with warm and happy memories of a unique event.
If all this seems too much to take on/too stressful and exhausting, consider using the services of a gay organising company to handle some or all of the details
Where can we celebrate our Civil Partnership Ceremony?
In our experience, some people can still be a bit homophobic – how can we ensure that we don’t come across this type of supplier in our quest for our dream day?
In our experience, the wedding industry is not one of prejudice, so you shouldn’t feel unable to simply call from our directory as normal.
You can celebrate your civil partnership ceremony at a registry office or at any venue which holds a civil wedding licence. There are 3,500 licensed venues across the UK and some of those specifically gay friendly can be found here.
Whatever you do don’t let any negative behaviour cast a dampener on your big day!