Gay couples in UK prefer marriages

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BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM: Christopher Patrick Flangan (R) and his partner Henry Emmauel Kane (L) kiss as they come out of Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, 19 December 2005 after exchanging vows. The first civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples in the UK are being held in Northern Ireland today, followed by Scotland on Tuesday and England and Wales on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO/PETER MUHLY (Photo credit should read PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images)

Civil unions for same-sex couples were introduced in 2004 to let gay people create families without official marriage. But 10 years after that gay marriage was officially recognized, same-sex couples started actively using that opportunity.

The data from the Office of National Statistics this week shows that the number of couples who have opted to enter a civil partnership has plunged since equal marriage became law. Just 861 couples entered civil partnerships in 2015, a drop of 80 percent from 2012, prior to same-sex marriage legislation being filed, when 6,362 did so.

Two-thirds (66%) of civil partnerships formed in 2015 were between men – the highest proportion since civil partnership formations were introduced in 2005. However, they remain popular with some groups, including older gay couples. Nearly half (48%) of all civil partners forming a partnership in 2015 were aged 50 and over; compared with 19% in 2013 prior to equal marriage. Proponents of civil partnerships say they remain a lifeline for people who may not feel comfortable entering a marriage for religious or personal reasons, but still want partnership rights.

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