The Civil Partnership Act 2004 provided for the legal recognition of homosexual relationships in the UK. The Act came into force in December 2005. Over the next seven years a total of 60,454 were formed.
In 2018 (the most recent year for which statistics are available at the time of writing) 956 civil partnerships were formed in England and Wales. In the same year, there were 927 civil partnership dissolutions. (Source)
The Act extended all the legal rights and privileges of marriage to homosexual couples. These include inheritance tax exemptions, the right to inherit a tenancy and survivors’ pension rights.
Although original extending only to same-sex couples, since 31st December 2019 civil partnerships have been available to heterosexual couples.
Following the introduction of marriages for same-sex couples in 2014, the numbers of couples entering a civil partnership has reduced from around 6,000 per year (in 2013) to about 1,000 per year (in 2015).
Attempts to extend civil partnerships to close family members have so far been unsuccessful.
If civil partnerships offer an alternative to marriage, then the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 redefined marriage. The Act excludes the possibility of such marriages taking place in the Church of England, and does not compel any church or church minister to conduct same-sex weddings.
The Christian Institute comments:
The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman. Genesis 2 records that marriage was instituted by God from the very beginning and hard-wired into human society.
On various occasions in the New Testament Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul both refer back to Genesis 2 as the foundations of our understanding about marriage (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31).
Although some might rejoice that civil partnerships offer many of the benefits of marriage, we must acknowledge that such arrangements fall short of God’s good plan for men and women in a number of ways. For one thing, civil partnerships were originally set up to legitimise what God expressly forbids: homosexual relations. For another thing, God is excluded from civil partnership ceremonies. For example, the singing of hymns or reading from the Bible are not permitted. For yet another thing, civil partnerships do not necessarily require lifelong commitment from the partners: the taking of of vows is optional.