The number of civil partnerships being registered annually has fallen and dissolutions have almost doubled, according to official figures.
Newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics show that during 2009 6,281 civil partnerships were formed in the UK, a 12 per cent reduction from 2008 when there were 7,169.
The figures demonstrate the continuing decline of the controversial unions since they were introduced in December 2005.
And they suggest that the Government’s original prediction of 62,000 civil partnerships being formed in the first five years was wildly exaggerated.
In 2007 there were 8,728 civil partnerships, a 46 per cent reduction from 2006 when there were 16,106 registrations.
These figures raise the total number of UK civil partnerships to 40,237 since the law entered the statute book.
The official stats also revealed that last year 351 civil partnerships were dissolved.
This is almost double the number recorded for the previous year when there were 180, and in 2007 there were just 41.
Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK which had an increase, from 86 to 96, in the number of civil partnerships last year.
Homosexual campaigner Peter Tatchell used the publication of the figures to call for civil partnerships to be replaced by ‘same-sex marriage’.
He said: “If same-sex marriage was legalised, many more lesbian and gay couples would opt for it rather than civil partnerships.
He added: “Quite a number of my gay friends want legal recognition but they haven’t opted for a civil partnership – they are holding out for same-sex marriage.”
Last month senior Lib Dem Simon Hughes predicted that marriage would be redefined and that the new definition would be imposed on society before the next general election.
Mr Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, made his remarks during a video interview with Yoosk, a website on which users can question important public figures.
The controversial move could cause a surge in litigation against those groups and individuals who hold to the traditional definition of marriage.