Facebook has added ‘civil unions’ and ‘domestic partnerships’ to its list of relationship status options, in a move which has been applauded by equality rights campaigners.
The new options have been rolled out over the last two days and are available for members in the UK, US, Canada, France and Australia.
Previously members could only choose from single, ‘in a relationship’, engaged, married, ‘it’s complicated’, widowed, separated, divorced and ‘in an open relationship’ as their possible relationship statuses.
Now ‘in a civil union’ and in a ‘domestic partnership’, has been added to the options list.
Users do not have to fill in their relationship status and can also choose to hide it from their public profile.
"Facebook sent a clear message in support of gay and lesbian couples to users across the globe," Jarrett Barrios, president the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told The San Francisco Chronicle.
"When millions of Facebook users see these relationship status options, they gain a greater understanding of the legal inequalities faced by loving and committed same-sex couples in so many states today."
Being able to see same-sex couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships who celebrate their relationships no differently than married couples will serve as another reminder that these couples still lack the same legal recognition and protections associated with marriage.
Facebook's noteworthy move also highlights the vast majority of same-sex couples living in states where there are no legal protections whatsoever."
A Facebook spokesman said: "This has been a highly requested feature from users. We want to provide options for people to genuinely and authentically reflect their relationships on Facebook."