Same-sex marriage is legal in all parts of the United Kingdom. As marriage is a devolved legislative matter , different parts of the UK legalised same-sex marriage at different times; it has been recognised and performed in England and Wales since March , in Scotland since December , and in Northern Ireland since January Same-sex marriage is legal in nine of the fourteen British Overseas Territories. Civil partnerships were legalised in the Cayman Islands on 4 September
Although Northern Island is a constituent of the United Kingdom, with its own parliament at Stormont, the change in its marriage laws ultimately came about due to action by the UK Parliament in London. Northern Ireland is the 18th European jurisdiction to legalize gay marriage. This number counts England and Wales together and Scotland and Northern Ireland as separate entities, since same-sex marriage became legal in the UK due to the enactment of three different pieces of legislation: first in England and Wales in , then in Scotland the following year, and now in Northern Ireland.
The word gay is commonly used for a homosexual man, whereas the word lesbian is used for a homosexual woman, but both are also commonly referred to as either a gay man or a gay woman. However, the Civil Partnership Act , which came into force on 5 December , provides same sex couples with a legal recognition of their relationship. As with married couples, civil partners are subject to a legal framework of rights and obligations in a wide range of areas including taxation and benefits, maintenance and parental responsibility, inheritance of tenancy agreements, hospital visiting rights, protection from domestic violence and immigration and nationality issues. To legally end a civil partnership, a couple must have been in the partnership for at least a year. Proof must be provided to a court that 'irretrievable breakdown' of the civil partnership has happened, citing specific 'supporting facts' such as unreasonable behaviour or separation for at least two years, before the partnership can be legally 'dissolved'.