The Church of England has reiterated its position that marriage is for heterosexual couples.

The church's statement is in response to the introduction of heterosexual civil partnerships in England.

“For Christians, marriage – that is, the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity,” the church said in a pastoral statement.

“Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God's purpose for human beings,” it added.

England created civil partnerships in 2005 for gay and lesbian couples. In 2013, marriage was legalized for gay couples. The law was amended to allow opposite-sex couples to enter a civil partnership following a 2018 ruling.

Clergy, the church said, “should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.”