Blackpool sees a huge fall in civil ceremonies

Sir Elton John (right) and David Furnish  tied the knot at their civil partnership in 2005
Sir Elton John (right) and David Furnish tied the knot at their civil partnership in 2005
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The number of couples forming civil partnerships in Blackpool has plummeted since same-sex marriage was legalised.

In the four years before the Same-Sex Marriage Act came into force in March 2014, there were 159 civil partnerships formed in the area, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

From 2014 to 2017, that number fell to just 11, of which seven were male couples and four were female couples.

Nina Parker, pastor at Blackpool’s Liberty Church, rarely gets requests for civil unions.

She said: “People just prefer weddings and it is more a matter of equality.”

Across England and Wales, almost 24,000 couples entered civil partnerships between 2010 and 2013, falling to just over 4,000 in the following four years.

A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship that guarantees same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.

LGBT charity Stonewall said despite its dwindling popularity, the civil partnership is still important and shouldn’t be abolished.

Stonewall campaigns, policy and research director Paul Twocock said: “The introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 was a huge milestone for LGBT equality.”

Graeme Fraser, of family justice organisation Resolution, said: “It’s entirely possible that same-sex couples nowadays also feel civil partnerships are, to an extent, discriminatory.”

Currently, only same-sex couples can have civil partnerships - although this has been challenged in the courts.

Last year in England and Wales there were 908 new civil partnerships - a two per cent increase on the previous year.

Two-thirds of those partnerships were between men, and more than half of the couples were aged over 50.