This presentation considers the introduction of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage in England and Wales, giving some background to the introduction of the two sets of legislation.  The number of couples taking advantage of civil partnership legislation is traced from the start in 2005, together with the effect of the subsequent introduction of same-sex marriage in March 2014, and the later facility, available in December 2014, for civil partners to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.  Survey data on attitudes to homosexuality, and on opinions as to whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry, are presented and show a considerable change over the past three decades.  These two sets of data are compared to see roughly whether there is evidence of the law leading public opinion – or vice versa.

England and Wales is in the unusual position of all jurisdictions of offering more options for same sex couples to form legal partnerships than opposite sex couples. The existing position is reviewed, and possible future scenarios considered.  Finally, two differences between civil partnerships and same-sex marriage are outlined, which possibly reflect the practical difficulties encountered in legislating reform in this field.

About the Speaker

John Haskey has been a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford for 12 years, and now an Associate Fellow, and was head of the Family Demography Unit within the Population and Demography Division of the Office for National Statistics.  He has published a variety of statistical studies, analyses and commentaries on the subjects of: marriage; divorce; cohabitation; Living Apart Together; ethnicity; adoption; families – including one-parent families and step-families – as well as households and relationships, including kin relationships.  One particular interest is the influence of legal regulations and legislative changes upon subsequent demographic behaviour. He has recently contributed to Family Law on: trends in divorce; the potential for court information to be better used for research purposes; and on profiles of surviving kin of different kinds of family member who die – the latter being a report of research carried out for The Law Commission for their work and recommendations on changing the law on intestacy.  John recently contributed a chapter on the history of marriage by denomination since Victorian times to a recent book entitled Marriage Rites and Rights. He has also contributed chapters to each of three other books on:  measuring household and family variables in social surveys; childlessness; and cohabitation.  He is a past President of the British Society for Population Studies, and an assistant Editor for the demographic journal, Population Studies.

A sandwich lunch, tea and coffee will be provided.

All welcome.

Convenor: Pip Coore (pip.coore@law.ox.ac.uk)

Senior Member: Lucinda Ferguson