The Isle of Man has become the first place in Britain to allow heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships, providing an alternative to traditional marriage for heterosexual couples. The Isle of Man government stated that the civil partnerships would be open to anyone from outside the Isle of Man. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Amendment Act 2016 came into force on 22nd July 2016 and also allows homosexual couples to marry or to convert their civil partnerships into marriages. There is concern as to whether and/or how heterosexual civil partnerships under the new law in the Isle of Man will be recognised by the rest of Britain. Lawyers have doubted whether the civil partnerships will be recognised at all. Isle of Man officials believe that the civil partnerships may be considered as marriages in the UK. The Ministry of Justice has stated that this would be an issue for the courts in a future case.
This could put pressure on other parts of Britain to change their laws to allow heterosexual civil partnerships. Peter Tatchell, the LGBT rights activist who has been spearheading the campaign for heterosexual civil partnerships, stated that, “this decision opens up the prospect that couples from the UK will go to the Isle of Man and get a civil partnership”. The change in the Isle of Man’s law follows Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan’s legal battle in England and Wales to change the law to allow heterosexual civil partnerships. The couple are preparing to challenge the current law at the Court of Appeal in November.