Heterosexual couples could be allowed to enter into civil partnerships in England and Wales as MPs back a review into the current laws.
Tim Loughton MP had launched a Private Members Bill to permit heterosexuals to form a civil partnership, claiming it was “not fair” that opposite-sex couples have “the single option of marriage”.
He has been forced to water down his proposals, however, with the Government promising a review, rather than committing to changing the law.
Coalition for Marriage Chairman Colin Hart said: “Extending civil partnerships to unmarried couples will profoundly undermine marriage. It will be seen as a low commitment ‘marriage lite’.”
The Government had previously said it did not intend to consult further on civil partnerships or to change the law, after two reviews.
However, the Home Office now says it will assess the demand for civil partnerships among same and mixed-sex couples.
It has been estimated that introducing civil partnerships for heterosexual couples will cost the taxpayer around £5bn.
Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh asked if cohabiting sisters would be covered by the proposed legislation, but his call was rejected by Mr Loughton.
In 2016, Catherine and Virginia Utley, sisters who have lived together nearly all their lives, spoke out at the injustice of the current system only allowing same-sex couples to form civil partnerships.
When one sister dies, the bereaved sister will “be left with an enormous burden of Inheritance Tax”, meaning she will have to sell the house to pay it.