What is the difference between marriage and civil partnerships?

Marriage can either be between a man and a woman, or between partners of the same sex. Civil partnership is only between those of the same sex.

What does the law say?

You must not be treated differently from others, victimised or harassed in your workplace because you are legally married or in a civil partnership.

What are the differences in the legislation? Is the law equal for all?

  • In 2013 the government introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. This is a new law which is separate and different from the Marriage Act of 1949. But Civil Partnerships for opposite-sex couples is prohibited.
  • Pension inheritance rights are fewer on death of a same-sex marriage spouse. The surviving partner is not entitled to receive the full value of their deceased partner’s pension. Employers are required by law to pay same-sex survivor’s pensions based only on contributions made since 2005, it is up to their discretion if they choose to pay the full value of the lifetime pension contributions.
  • The grounds for annulment of a marriage or for a divorce are non-consummation and adultery. This principle does not apply to same-sex marriages.
  • There is no provision for the restoration of marriages of transgender people that were forcibly annulled as a precondition for securing a gender recognition certificate.
  • The Church of England and the Church in Wales are explicitly banned from performing religious same-sex marriages. Other faiths can ‘opt in’ to marry LGB and T people, but these two denominations are prohibited.
  • The requirements for registering premises for religious same-sex marriages are more restrictive than for opposite-sex couples. All the sharing faith organisations have to give their permission for the premises to be used for same-sex marriages. In effect, anti-gay churches will have a veto over pro-gay churches.