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Caithness News Bulletins August 2005

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Civil Partnerships Paper For Resources Committee on 25 August 2005

Members of The Highland Council's Resources Committee are being asked this week to approve arrangements for Council staff to register Civil Partnerships between same-sex couples.

It is anticipated that around 40 Registration staff in Highland will be authorised to register civil partnerships when the Civil Partnership Act 2004 comes into force throughout the United Kingdom on 21 December this year.

In a report to the committee, which meets on Wednesday in Inverness, members are advised that the Registration Service has already received requests for registration of partnerships to take place immediately following implementation of the legislation in December.

Members are asked to agree that the Council should carry out registration at other venues or locations, outwith Registry Offices, subject to the necessary checks being made to ensure the health and safety of staff in respect of the chosen location. Already two requests have been received for registration to take place in hotels.

The committee report states: "The Act, which gives effect to the partnership, is the signature of the Partnership Schedule by both partners, two witnesses and the authorised registrar. Unlike marriage, there is no exchange of vows. It is possible, therefore, for the partnership to be registered very simply, with only five people present.

"However, many partners will wish to make this a special occasion and, in response to that, General Register Office is currently working to produce guidance for Registrars on the form of words that will be used during (1) a simple registration and (2) a ceremony. This will not be available until October.

"It is proposed that Civil Partnerships in Highland take the form of a simple registration or a ceremony dependent on the choice of participating partners."

The Council has received representations from individuals and from Reach Out Highland promoting the availability of ceremonies to celebrate civil partnerships and the report states that the recommendations placed before the committee address the issues raised.