EVERY couple in Scotland will soon be able to enter into civil partnerships instead of marrying under proposals to address equality concerns.

New legislation set to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament this autumn will ensure mixed-sex couples and same-sex couples have the same choices.

It comes after the UK Supreme Court declared the current rules are not compatible with human rights.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Extending civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples gives equality and choice to all.

“All couples will now have the option of a civil partnership or marriage which is a groundbreaking change for Scotland.

"We will be providing people with the option to enter into a legally recognised relationship which reflects their personal views.

“We wanted to ensure all voices were heard in regard to the future of civil partnership in Scotland and we have listened very carefully to the views of respondents to the consultation.

“This is about ensuring we are compatible with ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights] law and creating an inclusive, fairer Scotland which promotes equality of choice and human rights for everyone.”

Figures show there were just 70 civil partnerships registered in Scotland in each of 2016 and 2017.

Before the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2014, there were usually around 500 every year.

The latest change comes after the Scottish Government consulted on the future of civil partnerships and suggested two options: scrapping them, or making them available to mixed-sex couples.

Ministers decided making civil partnerships available to all would be the best way to remove the ECHR incompatibility from the law in Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said his party had been pressing for the change for years. 

He said: “This legislation offers a chance to bring to an end a separate and unequal two-tier solution, once and for all.

"It seems only sensible to allow all couples to choose the form of partnership best suited to them.”