September 23, 2011

IconGay couples less likely to divorce

Newly released figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicate that straight couples in England and Wales are more likely to divorce than same-sex partners. The findings come against a backdrop of growing public support for civil partnerships and gay marriage.

Statistics from 2010 show that 5.5% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce after four years, whilst only 2.5% of civil partnerships end in a dissolution in the same time period. However, an ONS report cautions that these figures may be “distorted” by the relatively recent introduction of civil partnership law.

“Early figures suggest that marriages are more likely to end in divorce than civil partnerships are to end in dissolution, although this may be distorted by a high proportion of civil partnerships being formed initially to couples who had already been together a significant time,” states the report.

Lesbian couples are considerably more likely to end their civil partnership than gay male couples. Only 44% of civil partnerships have been formed by women since their introduction in 2005, but 62% of dissolutions are undertaken by female couples.

Women are also more likely to have been in a previous civil partnership or marriage when they wed. 19% of lesbian and bisexual women entering into a civil partnership have already been in a legally recognised relationship, as opposed to 11% of men.

The statistics further reveal that civil partnerships are considerably more popular than originally envisaged. An official estimate in 2004 predicted that between 11,000 and 20,000 people in England and Wales would be in civil partnerships at the end of 2010. The actual figure was 85,556 people in 42,778 partnerships.

Support for same-sex relationships is on the rise amongst the British public. Young people are considerably more likely to approve of both civil partnership law and the idea of same-sex marriage, although this support is considerably more likely amongst women. 60% of women aged between 18 and 29 believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry, as compared to 45% of young men.

In contrast, more than one third of British men and women over the age of 70 believe that same-sex couples should not be allowed to obtain legal recognition. A majority of those who do believe in legal recognition support civil partnership rather than gay marriage.

There is considerably less public support for adoption by same-sex couples. Only 50% of women and 30% of men in the youngest age category believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

1 Response to Gay couples less likely to divorce

  1. Amidst reports of high divorce rates ‘cheapening’ the institution of marriage you’d think that these statistics would help legislators to see sense and legalise same-sex marriages sooner rather than later. After all, they now have an argument which could appease those that lean to the right.

    Here’s hoping!

Ruth Pearce


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