Dramatic fall in civil partnerships since same-sex marriage was legalised
- Credit: Archant © 2005
The number of civil partnerships in Norfolk has fallen dramatically since same-sex marriage was legalised.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that there were 364 civil partnerships in the county in the four years before the Same-Sex Marriage Act came into force in March 2014.
Since then, that number fell to 70, with 51 being male couples and 19 female couples.
Civil partnerships have fallen out of favour across the whole of England and Wales - around 24,000 couples entered civil partnerships between 2010-13, falling to just over 4,000 in the following four years.
But last year England and Wales saw 908 new civil partnerships - a 2pc increase on the previous year. Two-thirds of those partnerships were between men, and more than half of the couples were aged over 50.
A civil partnership is a legally recognised relationship which guarantees same-sex couples the same rights as married couples.
LGBT charity Stonewall has said that despite its dwindling popularity, the civil partnership is still an important institution and shouldn't be abolished.
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Stonewall campaigns, policy and research director Paul Twocock said: 'The introduction of civil partnerships in 2005 was a huge milestone for LGBT equality.
'For the first time, same-sex couples could have their relationships legally recognised and secure the same benefits as married couples of different sexes.'
'Many thousands of same-sex couples have also decided not to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.'
Family justice organisation Resolution said that declining numbers could be a reflection that younger couples are now more likely to form cohabiting families rather than legally recognised relationships.
Resolution's Graeme Fraser said: 'It's entirely possible that same-sex couples nowadays also feel civil partnerships are, to an extent, discriminatory.
'In addition to reviewing the status of civil partnerships, the Government must prioritise the lack of awareness and lack of protections for all types of modern families - to truly reflect changes in how couples choose to live together.'