Civil Partnerships were introduced in 2005. A civil partnership is a committed relationship very like a marriage, but between two people of the same sex.
As with marriage, there is a minimum age for not entering into a civil partnership and some close family relationships will not be recognised as a civil partnership. For gay couples, this is a breath of fresh air, giving public recognition to their commitment. It creates rights which same-sex couples could never enjoy before.
A civil partnership creates important new rights in many areas of law including taxation, inheritance, property ownership and tenancy rights, and protection from domestic violence.
Civil partnerships can be dissolved by the courts in the same way as marriages, with much the same range of rights and the potential for orders to regulate finances and property rights.