Policy Document

Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013




United Kingdom


Family & Children


Marriage & Registered Partnerships

Main implications

This UK General Public Act makes the marriage of same-sex couples lawful, granting same-sex couples rights equal to those of opposite-sex couples. The act applies to England and Wales only, but it establishes the procedures for the recognition of same-sex marriages as civil partnerships in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The act extends marriage to same-sex couples. The parties to an England and Wales civil partnership may convert their civil partnership into a marriage under a procedure established by regulations made by the Secretary of State. In the law of England and Wales, marriage has the same effect in relation to same-sex couples as it has in relation to opposite-sex couples. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the marriage of a same-sex couple under the law of England and Wales is to be treated as a civil partnership formed under the law of England and Wales. The main provisions of the act are as follows: allowing same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies; allowing same sex couples to marry in religious ceremonies, where the religious organisation has opted in to conduct such ceremonies and the minister agree; protecting religious organisations that wish to opt out from legal challenge; enabling married individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage (therefore repealing the restrictions on marriage put in place by the Gender Recognition Act 2004).

Benefits & Requirements

Coverage: Eligible groups or beneficiaries

Same-sex couples and registered civil partners.

Minimum age of marriage required established by this document

16 for both sexes.

Does this document allow for registered partnership?


Do partners have the same rights as those who are married?

Civil partners have similar, but not equal rights to married couples (see Civil Partnership Act 2004). Nevertheless, this Act gives civil partners the right to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

Minimum age required for registered partnerships established by this document:


Does this document recognize cohabitation as a legal union?


Does this document recognize same-sex unions?

This Act makes the marriage of same-sex couples lawful.

Read the Law

Full Text Source in English

2013, chapter 30

Original full text source in native language

2013, chapter 30

Full text web source in English


Original full text web source in native language


Secondary Literature & Sources

Secondary literature

- Department for Culture, Media and Sport. “Same sex marriage becomes law”. UK Government, London (2013). Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/same-sex-marriage-becomes-law
- Fairbairn et al. “Marriage of Same Sex Couples Across the UK: What’s the same and what’s different?” House of Commons Research Paper 14/29, House of Commons LIbrary (2014). Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/RP14-29/marriage-of-same-sex-couples-across-the-uk-whats-the-same-and-whats-the-difference
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport. “Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales): a consultation”. UK Government, London (2014). Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/274449/140122_CP_con_doc_pdf__docx.pdf


Ernestina Coast, Ginevra Floridi & Wendy Sigle
London School of Economics and Political Science

Data collected in the framework of the Population Europe Research Finder and Archive (PERFAR)

Cite as

SPLASH-db.eu (2014): Policy: "Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013" (Information provided by Ernestina Coast, Ginevra Floridi & Wendy Sigle). Available at: https://splash-db.eu [Date of access].