Getting hitched has become terrifically unfashionable: the number of marriages taking place in England and Wales is almost at its lowest since centralised records began, and below the levels recorded in 1895. Small surprise then that after a brief flurry of confetti soon after civil partnerships between same-sex couples became legal, the numbers tying the knot have also slumped, as figures published today by the Office of National Statistics show.

Just 6,385 couples registered a civil partnership in 2010, roughly the same as the previous year and down 60% from the peak in 2006, the first full year after the Civil Partnership Act came into force. More women than men are forming civil partnerships now: a trend that began in Scotland and Wales before spreading to Northern Ireland has arrived in England.

And while divorce rates for heterosexual couples have fallen, thanks in part to there being fewer marriages to be annulled, the rate for homosexual couples is low but rising: 500 civil partnerships were dissolved in 2010. Again, most of these affected women.

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