The take-up of civil partnerships is actually far lower than the Government originally predicted, contrary to widespread reports.
Earlier this week provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that over 100,000 people entered into civil partnerships between December 2005 and the end of 2011.
Media reports variously claimed that five or ten times as many civil partnerships had been formed than initially expected.
The press failed to report that the then Labour Government significantly downgraded its initial projection. By dropping the baseline the new figures are made to look impressive.
They originally estimated in 2003 that as many as 124,000 people could be in civil partnerships by 2010 and 310,000 by 2015. But these estimates were slashed in 2004.
The first civil partnerships were formed in December 2005, and they offer same-sex couples the same rights as marriage.
The new figures from the ONS also showed that the number of civil partnership dissolutions soared by nearly 30 per cent in 2011.
According to the ONS there were 672 dissolutions in 2011, a 28.7 per cent rise on the previous year’s figure of 522.
The ONS revealed that 6,795 civil partnerships were formed last year, a six per cent rise, bringing the total number of partnerships formed between 2005 and the end of 2011 to 53,417.
The figures are likely to intensify the debate about David Cameron’s controversial plans to redefine marriage.
The Prime Minister says he is “absolutely determined” to change the definition of marriage within the life of the current Parliament.
However, the plans have generated widespread opposition.Nearly 600,000 people, including a number of MPs, have signed a petition opposing any change. The petition is run by the Coalition for Marriage.
In May Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, became the first Cabinet Minister to openly oppose the plans. Other ministers have expressed reservations.
The plans have also attracted criticism from the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Muslim Council of Britain.
And last week an article published by gay journalist Andrew Pierce said the Prime Minister’s obsession with redefining marriage is killing the Tory Party.