Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday 5 December 2006

Civil Partnerships one year on

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that in the first nine months since the Civil Partnerships Act entered into force a year ago, 15,672 gay and lesbian couples have 'wed' with 90 per cent taking place in England (somewhat higher than the overall proportion of the population who live there). Over 900 couples took the plunge in Scotland over the period.

The ONS highlights that the age-profile of those getting 'partnered' has changed quite dramatically over the period with the proportion of those under 35 having doubled to 25 per cent, whereas for those over 50 the numbers halved to around 24 per cent. The gender balance of those getting married appears also to be evening-out after the initial balance in favour of male partners. After a little thought I have come to the conclusion that the reducing age-profile was probably quite predictable; undoubtedly in the early days the fact that 50 per cent were over 50 years old owes much to the fact that many of these couples will have been together for many years, decades in some cases, and had been waiting for a long time to be able to make their situation legal in the eyes of the law. The corollary is that the proportion of younger couples partnering is likely to continue to rise for at least the next few years as civil partnerships becoming increasingly ubiquitous, if not always accepted by all members of the couple's acquaintances and family - the current 'gay storyline' in the Archers is undoubtedly not just dramatic licence for the sake of a radio 'soap'; if, unlike me, you are not a sad 'Archers addict' you need to know that so far the father and the step-father of both Ian and Adam respectively and Adam's grandmother have all declined to attend the 'wedding'.

It's true we in the UK haven't come quite so far as South Africa where since last week full same-sex marriages have come into force, but I think the first year of civil partnerships here must be regarded as a major success.

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