In the UK, civil partnerships and marriages are both options open to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike.

Where there seems to be a disparity between the two however is that same-sex couples have the option to 'convert' their civil partnership into a marriage whilst it is explicitly stated that opposite-sex couples cannot do this.

I suppose I can see the logic- for those in same-sex couples who formed their legal relationship before they were able to get married, they might have wished to make this correction when same-sex marriage was formalised and there's no point in taking it off the books now it is there.

But why opposite-sex couples are not permitted to do this too is an unusual oversight.

So, the question; an opposite-sex couple in a civil partnership decide they now want to be married. What can they do?

A conversion is explicitly not allowed.

Can they get married whilst still in the civil partnership?

Do they first need to dissolve their relationship and then get married again?


  • Are you sure this is what the law says? I would understand those conditions to apply retroactively to the marriage dates; i.e. allowing gay couples to register as being married since the date they entered the civil partnership (for the reasons you state, a straight couple could have get married before the law change had they wished to, a gay couple could not). Otherwise, the law makes little sense.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 19, 2023 at 9:50

1 Answer 1


The legislation simply provides a novel conversion process for same-sex couples to convert their civil partnership to a marriage, with a date retroactive to the commencement of their civil partnership. See the regulations and the provision of the legislation allowing for this process to be created.

There are no restrictions on access to marriage based on the sex of the couple. Any couple can still get married outside of the conversion process, even while in a civil partnership.

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