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.