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05 AUG 2009

Civil partnerships down by 18%

The number of couples entering a civil partnership has dropped 18 per cent - from 8,728 in 2007 to 7,169 in 2008, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Civil partnership dissolutions have increased fourfold - from 42 to 180. To obtain a civil partnership dissolution in the UK, a couple must have been in either a registered civil partnership or a recognised foreign relationship for 12 months.

Although significantly more gay men enter civil partnerships, more lesbians decide to dissolve them - 116 of 180 registered dissolutions were by female couples.

A total of 33,956 civil partnerships have been formed in the UK since the Civil Partnership Act came into force in December 2005, giving couples joint pension rights and freedom from inheritance tax. The Act enables same-sex couples aged 16 and over to obtain legal recognition of their relationship.

A spokesperson gay rights organisation Stonewall said: "They highlight the fact 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."

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