Marriage and Civil Partnership

Marriage and Civil Partnership Inequality in Wales

The Facts

The approximate number of marriages registered in England and Wales was 247,890 in 2011. This was a 1.7% increase compared to the previous year which was recorded as 243,808. This rise in the number of marriages has been observed since 2009. A rise in civil partnerships was also seen between 2010 and 2011. This follows a decrease in number between 2006 and 2009. 6,795 civil partnerships were recorded in 2011 compared to 6385 in 2010, a 6.4% increase. The Civil Partnership Act was introduced in December of 2005. The total number of civil partnerships that have taken place between then and the end 2011 was 53,417[1].

Know Your Rights

Under Article 12 of the Human Rights Act; men and women of marriageable age shall have the right to marry and to found a family, according to national laws governing the exercise of this right. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2002 that this right extends to transgender people who are now able to marry or enter civil partnerships in their acquired gender because of the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The Civil Partnership Act 2004 means that gay men and lesbian women in the UK are now able to register civil partnerships. Couples who register a civil partnership have the same rights as heterosexual married couples in areas like tax, social security, inheritance and workplace benefits[2]. Following legal changes during 2014, same sex couples can now marry in civil ceremonies, or religious ones where the religious organisation allows it, throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Civil partners who wish to convert their civil partnership into a marriage are also able to do so in England, Scotland and Wales. Additionally, married transgender men and women are now able to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage[3]. Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because they are in a civil partnership or married. Indirect discrimination can occur where the effect of a rule, policy or a practice in a company could disadvantage people who are in a civil partnership or marriage. Indirect discrimination can be justified only if the practice is necessary for the way the business works, the employer can show they have looked at less discriminatory alternatives, and there is no other way of achieving it[3].


  1. Office for National Statistics. Marriages in England and Wales (Provisional), 2011.
  2. Civil partnerships and marriage.