Let’s see impact of same sex marriage law before any more changes, says Faculty

16 Dec


Ministers have been urged by the Faculty to wait at least five years to see the impact of same sex marriages before considering further changes to the law on civil partnerships.

The Faculty said that it felt the “pace of change may be too fast” and that time was needed to take stock. It suggested a five-year moratorium would be reasonable.

During the passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, which introduced same sex marriage, the Scottish Government indicated it would review civil partnerships, and has set out three options in a Consultation paper http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/09/4223

The three are: no change, so that civil partnerships would remain available for same sex couples only; no new civil partnerships to be entered into from a date in the future; and introducing opposite sex civil partnerships.

The Scottish Government is against the third option, but says it does not have a view at this stage on which of the other two should be followed.

In a Response, the Faculty said: “We are concerned that there may not be enough information available to make decisions on proposals of the nature proposed by the review. We consider that the pace of change may be too fast and that now is not the most appropriate point in time to be seeking to make the changes considered by the review.

“The provisions of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 have very recently come into force. It is not known yet what, if any, demand there will continue to be for civil partnership in the months and years to come. It would be helpful if there was an opportunity for the practical effect and impact of the introduction of the 2014 Act to be assessed before any further legislative change is introduced in the area.”

The Faculty pointed out that as well as the domestic legislation, relevant European measures had been passed recently or were about to be passed.

“We are of the view that more and better evidence is required in relation to the current lay of the land…before a fully informed and considered view can fairly be taken on the important changes proposed by the review, which have such wide-ranging implications,” added the Faculty.

“We agree therefore that there should be no change to the law at present and, furthermore, that it would be preferable to wait for at least a five-year period before reviewing the issue again…a five-year moratorium from the implementation of the 2014 Act would be reasonable.”

The full Response is at http://www.advocates.org.uk/media/1979/final-faculty-response-to-consultation-on-the-review-of-civil-partnership.pdf