The Minister for Equalities, Sajid Javid, has said that all civil partners who want to convert their relationship to marriage will be able to do so from 10 December.

At the same time, he said in a comment piece for Pink News that married transgender people will be able to change their legal gender without ending their marriage, provided the couple agrees to remain married.

He commented: ‘This is something we’ve heard a lot of calls for over the past few months, and I’m delighted that we’re now able to make it happen.’

On conversion of civil partnerships to marriage, Javid said: ‘We’ve made the process of conversion as straightforward as possible. Couples will simply have to attend a Register Office and sign a declaration that they both wish to convert their Civil Partnership to a marriage in front of the Superintendent Registrar. That’s it.

‘You don’t have to have a big party to celebrate with all your friends and family, but I certainly won’t try and stop you if you do!’

The move comes after months of uncertainty for civil partners, who may be denied the same rights as married couples in other countries which only recognise legal marriages. We reported back in March on couples who wanted to know when they would be able to convert their relationship, since the government was refusing to provide a clear timetable.

Javid, who is married with four children, went on to say that the Government has taken important steps to improve LGBT rights in Britain, which has resulted in Britain being top of the European LGBTI human rights league, according to ILGA Europe.

‘We have launched a new project to find ways of tackling homophobic bullying in schools, something too many children still suffer with,’ he said, adding that the government ‘have introduced much tougher sentences for transphobic hate crime, horrendous behaviour that has no place in a civilised society.

‘Sports clubs, including all professional football clubs, and thousands of individuals have signed our charter for action on tackling homophobia and transphobia in sport. And we have changed the law so that men who were unfairly stigmatised by decades-old convictions for consensual gay sex can have those convictions treated as spent.’