If the Bill is passed by Parliament, I intend to take steps as soon as possible to introduce Joint Civil Partnerships in Scotland, recognising the restrictions caused by the current pandemic. By making civil partnerships accessible to all, the bill will bring more than benefits to couples who want a mixed partnership. It is about creating a Scotland where equality is important and rights are respected in legislation. A civil partnership exists when both persons have signed the certificate of civil partnership in the presence of a civil registrar and two witnesses.  In general, the Regulation amends existing legislation to take account of the introduction of mixed civil partnerships. We are discussing the details with the British Government. We currently believe that the regulation should include amendments to the Equality Act 2010 to protect religious and philosophical bodies that do not wish to be involved in the registration of mixed civil partnerships. amendments to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008; and provisions for civil partnerships between consular and armed forces abroad if the couple identify with Scotland as a relevant part of the United Kingdom. I do not have much to add to those answers. Civil partnership is another path to the very similar legal protections that marriage provides. We fully understand why some couples prefer this path, for the reasons that other witnesses have outlined. I agree.
The legal differences between civil partnerships and same-sex marriage are very narrow – in fact, they are insignificant. However, the important idea – given that formalised status is expected to develop in society – is that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 allows couples to imprint their values in their relationship. Yes, there are some echoes of marriage compared to the 2004 law, but this law can evolve and give the parties the opportunity to express themselves through this law. I agree with Martin Loat and Dr. Kollman that symbolic values cannot simply be set aside, but are of great importance to couples. I hope we can all be proud to introduce a bill that guarantees equality for everyone in choosing the form of legal recognition they want for their relationship; Perhaps tonight, as a result of this debate, there will even be proposals for civil partnerships. If so, we can all congratulate all together all the couples who have decided to go ahead with their marriage or registered partnership plans. We wish them a happy life together. This principle of equality is reflected in the fact that, in most cases, the bill does not distinguish between same-sex partnerships and mixed partnerships. This means that the same standards apply to mixed partnerships with respect to eligibility requirements for relationship establishment, and the same processes and fees apply to relationship registration.
Approval for religious and philosophical organizations and celebrants wishing to register mixed civil partnerships will be the same as for those wishing to register same-sex civil partnerships. A public consultation to examine how same-sex couples can obtain civil marriage will begin in March 2012, the government announced today. Since 13 January 2020, civil partnerships are available for opposite-sex couples in Northern Ireland.  This change occurred at the same time as the UK government issued regulations extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.  The Scottish Government introduced legislation in the Scottish Parliament allowing opposite-sex partnerships on 30 September 2019 and the bill was passed by Parliament on 23 June 2020 by a vote of 64 to 0.  It received Royal Assent on July 28, 2020 and is now awaiting secondary legislation before coming into force.  In 2004, when the Civil Partnership Act was passed by Parliament, the main political imperative to ensure the passage of the law was to isolate it from marriage. Jacqui Smith, Chief Minister of Westminster, said that the bill is not about marriage and that it does not attack this ancient and wonderful institution. At the time, there was a political imperative to say that same-sex couples were different from mixed couples. This argument was used to garner support for the bill. However, that was 16 years ago and the world, especially in this area, has changed. These debates would be much less appealing today, but they were important then.
Good morning, Secretary to the Cabinet, thank you for joining us today. In Phase 1, we heard a lot of testimony about the importance of the law in terms of people`s views on marriage. The term “marriage” comes with a lot of baggage and can be quite an emotional subject for some people. For this reason, there are concerns about interim measures that would apply before the law has fully entered into force. Civil partnerships for different sexes registered outside Scotland are considered marriages if the persons participating in these partnerships visit Scotland or move to Scotland during the transition period. What could we do about that through this bill? Could we approach it differently? For example, could these partnerships be considered registered partnerships and not marriages until the law comes into force? Your comments trigger two follow-up questions. As you said, the registered partnership that exists in Scotland for same-sex couples is incomplete because it does not confer parental rights. Should we use this bill to remedy that? I imagine that dealing with existing civil partnerships would fall within the scope of the bill. If the issue were to be examined superficially, one might wonder why new legislation was needed, given that civil partnerships and marriages offered almost identical legal benefits.
Even the Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships makes this clear on its website, which states: The bill will ensure that these couples have the right to access the relationship that best suits their beliefs and that provides their families with security and certainty when they have it. The bill will thus complete the final piece of the formal relationship puzzle for Scotland. Marriage is an ancient and universal institution. Recent innovations have changed the landscape of adult-to-adult relationships, with the creation of civil partnerships for same-sex couples in 2004 and the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014. When the UK Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that civil partnership law in England and Wales was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and prevented mixed couples from entering into a registered partnership, it was clear that it was time to consider changing civil partnership law in Scotland. “I am pleased to confirm that early next year, the government will begin a formal consultation on equal civil marriage for same-sex couples. That would allow us to make legislative changes before the end of this Parliament. We will work closely with anyone interested in the region to understand their views prior to the formal consultation.
When civil partnership was introduced about 15 years ago, we were glad that adultery was omitted for reasons of dissolution, even though we wanted civil partnership to mimic marriage law as much as possible, as infidelity can be dealt with under unreasonable behavior. Adultery is still in Scottish marriage law because it is important for religious bodies such as churches: adultery is mentioned in the Bible. It has been retained in the Divorce for Marriage Act, but we see no reason to include it in the Civil Partnerships Dissolution Act. Andy Hayward is quite right that this approach does not address the real problem in England. It is argued that opening up civil partnerships to mixed couples is more urgent in England and Wales than in Scotland because they do not have cohabitation provisions like we do. We have estate requests, separation requests and financial adjustments in these difficult phases of people`s lives. “Even today, marriage certificates only have room for the names of the fathers of the bride and groom, while civil partnerships contain the names of both parents. And during the ceremony, the partners must say the words “I take you for my wife. I will take you as my husband. As Elena Soper said, it is certainly true that cohabitation law currently offers weaker protections – particularly weaker financial protection – than those afforded by marriage or civil partnerships when the couple separates or if one of the couples dies. Protection is weaker and less secure because people have to convince the court that they are living together. If a person is married or in a registered partnership, they have a certificate that immediately gives them status. Another problem of inequality between the two institutions is that adultery in marriage is grounds for divorce, as Graham Simpson mentioned.
In civil partnership, however, there is no reason for dissolution. Technically, this makes civil partnership something other than an equivalent alternative to marriage. As was said earlier – Graham Simpson pointed out that we are probably crossing the same lines – the committee presented a number of pieces of evidence to improve our review. It is essential that the bill receive broad support. Stonewall Scotland, for example, believes the bill would support LGBT people as a whole by opening up options for bi and trans people. In addition, Children in Scotland believes that the legislation would only have a positive impact on children whose parents opt for mixed partnerships and on children born to parents in mixed partnerships.