Civil Partnership Sibling amendment


  • Registering a Civil Partnership entitles the parties to rights and benefits including inheritance tax exemptions, the right to inherit a tenancy and survivors’ pension rights.1
  • During the passage of the Civil Partnership Bill, an amendment was put forward by Edward Leigh MP to extend the Bill to siblings who have lived together for twelve years or more. The amendment was defeated in the House of Commons by 74 votes to 381.
  • An earlier amendment, initially passed in the House of Lords, extended the Bill to include close family members as well as siblings. However, when it became clear that such a broad extension would be unlikely to succeed in the House of Commons, the narrower amendment was put forward by Edward Leigh MP.
  • In 2013, the House of Lords considered an amendment calling for a review of the exclusion of siblings from civil partnership rights during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Although the Bill already included provision for a general review of civil partnerships, the amendment was defeated by 267 votes to 89.

Key points

  • The Civil Partnership Act is unfair. The scheme only applies to gays and lesbians, whilst other house-sharers are excluded.
  • The major argument advanced by the then Labour Government in favour of civil partnerships was that there were ‘hard cases’ which needed to be remedied – individual cases of disadvantage suffered by homosexual couples in comparison to married couples.
  • Yet by restricting civil partnerships to homosexual couples, the Government ignored many more ‘hard cases’ of potential injustice – a daughter living with her elderly mother, a grandson living with his infirm grandfather, a friend who looks after a disabled person on a long-term basis.
  • For example, two elderly sisters live together for twenty years. One dies, and the other can’t afford the inheritance tax and has to sell the home they shared. A gay couple register their partnership. One dies after only a year and the other inherits a large property, tax-free.
  • Over 80% of the public believed the Civil Partnership Bill should have been fairer to ordinary families according to an opinion poll.2 Even the Government and supporters of the Bill were forced to admit that civil partnerships created injustice for ordinary family members.
  • If the Government was really concerned about injustice it would have helped ordinary families as well. The fact that it was content to ignore them proves the Civil Partnership Act was really about rewarding sexual relationships that are morally wrong.
  • In 2008, two elderly sisters, who claimed that the Government was discriminating against them unfairly by withholding from them the tax rights now available to same-sex civil partners, lost their case at the European Court of Human Rights.3
  1. 1It was the 2005 budget which extended the tax benefits of marriage to those who enter a civil partnership. See Inheritance tax and civil partnerships, House of Commons Library, Standard Note SN 2995, 18 June 2013, page 1
  2. 2The Christian Institute Press Release, ‘Public strongly supports including siblings in Civil Partnership Bill’, 8 November 2004
  3. 3The Daily Telegraph, 30 April 2008