Same sex marriage: a decade on
We look back at the impact of the Act and reflect on whether there is true marriage equality for all LGBT+ people in England and Wales.
In July 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent, in a welcome leap forward in marriage equality. As a result it became possible in England and Wales for same sex couples to declare their love and commitment to one another through the valued institution of marriage.
To mark the 10 year anniversary of the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, we look back at the impact of the Act and reflect on whether there is true marriage equality for all LGBT+ people in England and Wales.
Same-sex marriage – the statistics
- The first same sex marriage in England and Wales took place in March 2014.
- In the six year period between 2014 and the end of 2019:
- A total of 1,445,015 marriages took place in England and Wales. Of this figure 38,947 marriages were between same sex couples. This equates to 2.7%.
- 15,683 same sex couples converted their civil partnership into a marriage.
- Only 0.72% of same sex couples had a religious ceremony, as opposed to a civil ceremony.
- In 1900 religious ceremonies accounted for 85% of all marriages
- Between 2014 and 2019 just 18% of all couples whether in opposite sex or same sex relationships had a religious ceremony.
- Men and women marrying same sex partners were consistently older than those marrying opposite sex partners.
- For opposite sex couples the average age for a man marrying was 37.1, while for women it was 34.8.
- For same sex couples the average age for men as at the date of marriage was 39.9, while for women it was 36.4.
Hence on average women in same sex couples were 1.6 years older than those marrying opposite sex partners and men in same sex couples were 2.8 years older than their opposite sex counterparts.
- The number of opposite sex marriages has fallen by 50% since 1972 and the number recorded in 2019 was the lowest on record since 1862. In contrast the rates for same sex marriages have remained the consistent since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced.
There has been a gradual decline in the number of people opting to get married since the 1970s. Despite this decline more people are choosing to get married later in life – particularly those aged 65 and older. Indeed, those who get married before they are aged thirty are now in the minority.
What about transgender and non-binary people?
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.
A trans person can get married as their legally acquired gender in either an opposite sex-marriage or a same-sex marriage, if they have a full gender recognition certificate.
Those who identify as other than the binary male or female do not have legal recognition in the UK and are therefore not legally recognised as non-binary when getting married or entering a civil partnership.
If you would like further guidance on any aspects of the Marriage Act, please contact our expert LGBTQ+ family solicitors.