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Marriage and civil partnerships for non-binary people

There are no current plans to make changes to the Gender Recognition Act generally or to the status of non-binary people.

The 2021 census was the first to give estimates on gender identity and sexual orientation, making it the first to record the number of people identifying as transgender and non-binary in the UK.

The census revealed that in the UK:

  • 262,000 people identified as a different gender than their sex registered at birth
  • 30,000 of those people identified as non-binary.

Non-binary recognition

There is currently no legal recognition for those who identify as non-binary in the UK.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 enables people to legally change the sex recorded on their birth certificate from female to male or vice versa, but there remains no provision for any other gender identity.

The Government has made clear there are no current plans to make changes to the Gender Recognition Act generally or to the status of non-binary people.

Marriage and civil partnership

This means that individuals are not legally recognised as non-binary when getting married, or when entering a civil partnership. Marriages are still labelled as either ‘opposite sex’ marriages or ‘same-sex’ marriages.

Gender is not stated on a marriage certificate, but a person will have to provide a valid passport or birth certificate (on which they will be identified as a binary gender) ahead of getting married or entering a civil partnership, along with proof of any name changes.

A trans person can get married as their legally acquired gender if they have a full gender recognition certificate, but as mentioned the gender must be either male or female.

A marriage certificate contains other information including the ‘condition’ of the parties, which means confirmation of marital status. Thankfully words such as ‘spinster’ and ‘bachelor’ are usually replaced by gender neutral ‘single’.

Some non-binary people may choose to remain unmarried or without a civil partnership, which has a number of legal implications. Notably, couples who choose to remain unmarried/not in a civil partnership do not have the same rights as married couples in relation to passing on assets on death. Similarly, unmarried couples/those not in a civil partnership do not enjoy the same protections on relationship breakdown as couples who are, where the court has a wide discretion to allocate resources fairly.

Divorce or dissolution as a non-binary person

Individuals can get divorced or dissolve a civil partnership without having to state their gender, so non-binary individuals can do so without having to provide a binary gender identity. There is also the ability to apply for a divorce or dissolution using a name other than the one given on the marriage or civil partnership certificate.

For guidance on marriage and civil partnership as a non-binary individual, please contact our expert LGBTQ+ family solicitors.

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