What is a civil union and will my union be recognized elsewhere?


The terms civil partnership or civil union mean different things to different people in various countries. In this post, Pink Families explains what a civil union is and whether the union will be recognized in another country.

Do civil unions provide the same rights as marriage?

Civil unions or civil partnerships are mostly only possible in developed countries. They exist to provide same-sex partners similar rights to their heterosexual married counterparts.

However, the rights provided by a civil unions are often not the same as those provided to couples that are married.

Each country allows for slightly different rights and benefits. For example, in France the rights of those in a civil solidarity pact (civil union) are less than those who are married. While in South Africa couples in a civil partnership have the same rights as those who are married.

In some countries, but not all, civil unions or civil partnerships are also available to straight couples. This is the case in France, for example. However, in the UK opposite-sex couples can not form a civil partnership.

Is a civil union the same as a civil partnership?

The terminology used to describe a civil union or civil partnership varies throughout the world.

It includes terms like civil partnership, civil union, domestic partnership, reciprocal beneficiary relationship and civil solidarity pact.

All of these terms are generally used interchangeably. In reality, they can entail quite different entitlements and rights in one country as compared to the next.

Will my civil union be recognized in a different country?

Some countries with civil unions, but not all, will recognize the union if it is similar to what is offered in their own country. This is the case in the UK. However, many countries will not recognize the legal status of civil unions.

The overwhelming majority of civil partnership ceremonies in the UK take place in London. One of them is featured in the video below.

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