For the first time, more women than men are having civil partnerships in the UK.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, 49 per cent of last year’s ceremonies were held by men. In 2009, men held 51 per cent of all civil partnerships.

Between 2005, when civil partnerships were legalised, and 2010, a total of 46,622 ceremonies were carried out.

Last year, 6,385 were held, a 1.7 per cent rise from 2009.

The average age to have a civil partnership is 40 for men and 39 for women and the most popular places to have the ceremonies are Brighton and London.

Last year, a PinkNews.co.uk poll of more than 800 readers found that 98 per cent would prefer the right to marry.

The coalition government has pledged to consult on the issue, while gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has launched a case at the European Court of Human Rights.