Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has heavily criticised the government for not extending civil partnerships to include straight couples.

Following a consultation into the future of civil partnerships, the Government has announced that the legislation will remain in place, unaltered.

The results showed that 76% of respondents were against extending civil partnerships to straight couples, but that a majority were also against abolishing the legislation altogether.

Peter Tatchell told PinkNews: “It is great that same-sex couples in civil partnerships can now convert them into marriages. But why the long delay until December this year? This is nine months after the first same-sex marriages and 18 months after the legislation was agreed by parliament.

“David Cameron has betrayed the principle of equality by refusing to allow opposite-sex couples to have a civil partnership. His government is maintaining legal discrimination against straight partners. In a democracy, we should all be equal before the law.

“Same-sex couples now have a legal advantage over straight couples. They have two options: civil marriage and civil partnership. In contrast, opposite-sex couples have only one option: marriage. This is unjust and unfair.

“The government’s decision to retain civil partnerships is welcome. Not everyone wants to get married, given that marriage has a long sexist and homophobic history. It is right that all couples should have a choice.

“Some LGBT and straight people don’t like the sexist, homophobic traditions of marriage. They’d prefer a civil partnership; believing it to be more equal and without the historical baggage that goes with matrimony. They should have the choice of a civil partnership if they wish. Marriage should not be the only option. Couples should not be forced to marry to get legal recognition and rights. They should have the alternative option of a civil partnership,” he concluded.

A straight couple from London in March  announced their engagement, but said that they would get civilly partnered rather than married, in order to push for full marriage equality.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell repeatedly called for the coalition’s equal marriage plans to include civil partnerships for heterosexuals.

He criticised then Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, for ruling out the measure during the same-sex marriage debate.