In opposition to the introduction of civil partnerships for straight couples, Christian groups claimed that it would “discourage” opposite sex couples from marrying.

Following a public consultation, the British Government yesterday announced that it would leave in place civil partnerships for gay couples, but would not extend them to straight couples.

76% of respondents to the consultation were opposed to extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, including Christian Concern and Christian Legal Centre.

The two groups responded to the consultation to claim that straight couples would be discouraged from marrying, and that it would lead to instability in families.

“The introduction of heterosexual civil partnerships will inevitably discourage some opposite sex couples from marrying, and result in greater instability within families, by offering a parallel institution that provides all the legal rights and privileges of marriage without the need for lifelong commitment.”

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.