Published: 18th August 2016
Heterosexual couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships for the first time, following changes to the laws on the Isle of Man from Friday 29th July 2016.
This represents the first time that heterosexual couples have been given such a right in the British Isles, with many legal professionals predicting that the change in legislation will now put pressure on the governments in England and Wales to follow suit.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership Amendment Act 2016 came into force on 22nd July, allowing same-sex couples to marry on the Isle of Man, as well as allowing heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships.
The government of the Isle of Man has said that the civil partnerships are open to anyone from outside the island, however this has created a grey area in certain parts of Britain, causing uncertainty over how heterosexual couples in civil partnerships issued on the Isle of Man will be recognised.
Isle of Man officials say that they expect heterosexual civil partnerships to be regarded the same as traditional marriages throughout the rest of the UK, but the Ministry of Justice has said that it would be a matter for the courts to decide and that, in some cases, they might not be recognised at all.
Veteran LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that any uncertainty would only be resolved once heterosexual couples in civil partnerships have tested the law. He said: ‘It makes the UK look very backward and it creates a precedent.’
‘Many […] will wonder if the Isle of Man can have equal civil partnerships for opposite sex couples why not England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island. This decision opens up the prospect that couples from the UK will go to the Isle of Man and get a civil partnership. This will force the UK governments to decide whether they will recognise opposite sex civil partnerships conducted in the Isle of Man’.
The law in England and Wales clearly states that couples need to be of the same sex at the time of their civil partnership registration, which means that despite the new legislation on the Isle of Man, the courts in England and Wales have no choice but to refer any case of this nature to Parliament.
At K J Smith Solicitors, our team of family law specialists have many years of experience in dealing with all issues relating to civil partnerships and traditional divorce.
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