(341)  CIVIL PARTNERSHIP BILL

The Civil Partnership Bill, which (bizarrely) is under the wing of the Department of Trade and Industry, was introduced into the House of Lords on 30 March 2004 and was published on 31 March 2004. The Bill can be viewed at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/pabills.htm.  In the interests of creating parity across the United Kingdom, the Civil Partnership Bill is intended to legislate for the whole of the UK. Scottish Ministers will ask the Scottish Parliament to agree to a Sewel motion to include Scottish provisions in the Civil Partnership Bill.  See for background Nos 254, 255.  According to the syntactically challenged DTI press release, the Bill creates a new legal status that would allow adult same-sex couples to gain formal recognition of their relationship. Same-sex couples who enter a civil partnership would access a wide range of rights and responsibilities reflecting the important commitment they are making to one other.  The Bill addresses many of the injustices that same-sex couples people (sic!) face because they are unable to secure legal recognition of their relationships. Provisions in the Bill include both rights and responsibilities for example:

Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for your civil partner Duty to provide reasonable maintenance for children of the family Civil partners to be assessed in the same way as spouses for child supportEquitable treatment for the purposes of life assurance Employment and pension benefits Recognition under intestacy rules Access to fatal accidents compensation  Protection from domestic violence Recognition for immigration and nationality purposes. The Bill provides for same-sex couples to enter a civil partnership through a statutory, civil registration procedure. A dissolution process would be created to deal with situations where a civil partnership breaks down. Access to a civil partnership would bring benefits to the individuals who enter them, and benefits for society as a whole, says the DTI: civil partnership underlines the inherent value of committed same-sex relationships, supports stable families and shows that we value the diversity of the society we live in.

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