New figures released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics and published by The Independent reveal that there was a 12 percent decline in civil partnerships last year.

In 2009, 6,281 lesbian and gay couples chose to tie the knot through civil partnerships, down from 7,169 in 2008. Traditional marriage for same-sex couples is not legal in the UK.

The statistics also reveal that 351 civil partnership were disolved in 2009, compared to 180 in the previous year; the vast majority – between 63 and 71 percent, depending on the region – were female couples.

Since civil partnerships were made legal in the UK in 2005, more than 40,000 gay and lesbian couples have gotten hitched.

There’s, however, been growing dissatisfaction among Britain’s gay and lesbian community over the fact that same-sex couples cannot marry in the same way that heterosexual couples can.

LGBT activist Peter Tatchell has described civil partnerships, which are only available to same-sex couples and not heterosexual couples, as “a new form of discrimination,” saying that “separate is not equal”.

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