First the Civil Partnerships, Now the Civil Dissolutions
Backer, Stina, The Independent (London, England)
Fourfold increase in number of same-sex couples breaking up
In terms of break-ups and heartache, gay couples are starting to catch up with their straight counterparts. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a big fall in civil partnerships and a sharp increase in same-sex dissolutions.
The number of couples entering a civil partnership has dropped 18 per cent - from 8,728 in 2007 to 7,169 in 2008. Dissolutions, the equivalent to a heterosexual divorce, have increased fourfold - from 42 to 180.
The gay rights organisation Stonewall said that the drop in numbers had been expected and the "pent-up demand had been met", with thousands of couples who had waited decades to legalise their partnerships rushing to tie the knot when civil partnerships were introduced in December 2005.
The ONS said that some fall-off was to be expected. Since the partnership law was introduced, 33,965 couples have taken advantage of it.
"These figures show true equality," said a Stonewall spokesperson. "They highlight the fact there there is no difference between the success rates between hetero and homosexual couples, like some sections of the media try and claim. It shows that gay people are exercising their rights to both enter and disband a civil partnership."
The civil partnership lawyer and the head of family law at Anthony Gold Solicitors, Kim Beatson, said she believed dissolutions had increased because people who had been in a stable relationship and had entered a civil partnership had since re-evaluated and determined that the relationship had gone stale, while others had been a bit "too fresh" when they entered a civil partnership.
"Some couples were caught up in the romance of the occasion and therefore probably entered into it from not as a stable background. But as with any forms of marriage, gay or straight, these types of relationships would come to an end.
"We also can't forget that there is a huge number of gay and lesbian couples who regard the civil partnership as second rate to marriage, and simply not good enough."
The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that gay couples were now waiting in the hope the law would change regarding same- sex marriage.
"Initially, most were ready to settle for civil partnerships. After years of no legal rights they were desperate to get something. Now the mood is shifting in favour of full legal equality - the right to get married in a registry office on the same level as heterosexual couples."
While a significantly higher number of gay men enter civil partnerships, more lesbians decide to dissolve them - 116 of 180 registered dissolutions were by female couples. …