Humanist Society Scotland has called for civil partnerships to be available for all couples in Scotland, not just those in same-sex relationships.

They have added to the voice of equality campaigners who are putting pressure on ministers for heterosexual couples to be allowed to enter into a civil partnership instead of getting married.

The Scottish Government has been facing calls to make a U-turn after a string of organisations and individuals called for the extension of civil unions, with some claiming the current position amounts to discrimination against heterosexuals.

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The Scottish Government is considering phasing out new civil partnerships altogether, following the legalisation of gay marriage, and is opposed to allowing the option universally.

owever, while largely socially conservative religious organisations have backed the Government's stance, a consultation has found widespread support elsewhere for the extension of civil partnerships to all couples.

And HSS has now said the journey to equality would be to allow mixed-sex couples access to civil partnerships if they choose.

HSS responded to a Scottish Government’s consultation in which it said that introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships "would be an opportunity missed to strengthen the Scottish Government’s commitment to equality by giving greater freedom to couples, regardless of sex or gender, to celebrate their relationship in a personalised way of their choice".

An HSS spokesman said: "Humanist Society Scotland was proud to play a major role in the campaign for equal marriage in Scotland. We maintained then, and repeat now, that part of that journey to equality would be to allow mixed-sex couples access to civil partnerships if they choose."

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s position, HSS registered celebrant, Ross Wright, said: “Civil partnerships were introduced as a stop-gap measure, short of full equality and for this reason many people are keen to see this scrapped.

“We are very sympathetic to this, however many mixed-sex couples who are in a second, or subsequent relationship, do not wish to get married for various reasons and civil partnerships give such couples a route to legal protection, and security.

“Earlier this year I was approached by a mixed-sex couple who were looking to get a civil partnership, however had to get married instead as that wasn’t an option for them. There may be many more, but we just don’t know.”