Ten of thousands of lesbian and gay couples tied the knot during the first twelve months since civil partnerships were legalised.

Detailed information from National Statistics said that 18,059 civil partnerships were formed between when the act came into force on 5th December 2005 until the end of 2006.

There were 1,953 civil partnerships formed in the UK in December 2005 and 16,106 in 2006.

The act gives same-sex couples the same rights as straight couples when it comes to benefits and responsibilities such as property, employment and pensions.

Although the statistics indicate that more men than women were forming civil partnerships in the UK overall, the gap was narrowing,.

In December 2005 and the first quarter of 2006 66% of civil partners were male, with this proportion decreasing to 57% in the last quarter of 2006.

90% of civil partnerships took place in England, with a third of male registrations taking place in London, a large figure when considered that the region only contains 13% of the UK male population.

The statistics also showed that the age of men entering partnerships is decreasing, with more than half of gay men being 50 and over in the first few months of civil partnerships, with this decreasing to only a third by the end of 2006.

Ages of female couples stayed around the same level.

There were no statistics available for ‘divorces’, or civil partnership dissolutions, as couples had to have been in a relationship for twelve months.

Although civil partnerships are identical to marriages in practice, some have criticised the fact that it will never be officially recognised as one. Jennie Bristow wrote for Spiked at the time:

“A civil partnership between two homosexual individuals is just like marriage. But it emphatically isn’t marriage, and it does not treat gay people as if they are straight. It is a different kind of institution, explicitly designed for different kind of people.”

However, most gay rights organisations such as Stonewall have supported civil partnerships along with all three main political parties.

In 2003, the then minister for equality Jacqui Smith explained why the law was changed.

“Civil partnership registration underlines the inherent value of committed same-sex relationships. It supports stable families and shows that we really respect the diversity of the society we live in. It opens the way to respect, recognition and justice for those who have been denied it too long.”