The number of civil partnerships entered into in the UK in 2011 was 6,795, an increase of 6.4 per cent on the previous year.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today show the average age for men entering a civil partnership was 40 years, while the mean for women was 38.

The number of dissolutions was 672, almost exactly 10 percent of the total number of gay unions, but up 28.7 percent on 2010′s figure. Civil partnerships have been in effect since December 2005.

By contract, in 2010, there were 120,000 divorces and 241,000 new marriages.

London and Brighton were the most popular areas for a civil partnership. Men accounted to 50.7 percent of civil partnerships, women for 49.3.

The figures continue a trend which has been in place since civil partnerships came into effect for the mean age of new civil partners to fall year on year. Gay men going into civil partnerships were on average six months younger in 2011 than they were in 2010, women only a month younger on average.

Stonewall Director of Public Affairs Ruth Hun said: “We’re delighted that civil partnerships have proved to be so popular, both with same-sex couples and in wider society. YouGov polling for Stonewall shows four in five people across Britain support civil partnerships, and seven in ten support equal marriage.

“This modest step towards full equality needn’t take much parliamentary time. It’s time for the government to get on with it.”

Overall, 4.6 percent of the total number of civil partnerships between two women formed since 2005 have ended in dissolution. 2.2 percent of those between two men were dissolved.

The figures outstrip original government estimates.

Before the system was introduced, it was expected between 11,000 and 22,000 people would enter a civil partnership by 2010. The actual figure was much higher and by the end of 2011, there were 53,417 unions, with 106,834 civil partners in total.

Within the constituent parts of the UK, the pattern varied widely for 2011 compared with 2010.

In England, unions were up 6.6 percent and those in Scotland up 19.1 percent. However, Welsh gay unions fell 6 percent and those in Northern Ireland were down by nearly a quarter.