Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld campaigned for the change made.

Theresa May has announced plans for heterosexual couples in the UK to have the right to enter civil partnerships.

The prime minister made the announcement at the Conservative party conference held in Birmingham, where she pledged to end discrimination against opposite-sex couples.

“As home secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage,” she said. “Now, by extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life.”

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who both campaigned for the right to enter a civil partnership through the London courts, were happy with the prime minister’s announcement.

“This is great news and a major step in the right direction, but we will only celebrate when legislation is agreed and the government confirms the date for when the first different-sex civil partnership can take place. Change is long overdue,” they said.

“We’ve been struggling for four long years to open civil partnerships to all, for the millions of couples like us who want legal recognition and financial protection for their relationship. Now we urge the government to finish the job so that couples such as Joanna and Steve, who has terminal cancer, can celebrate their love for each other in a way that is meaningful to them, before it is too late.”

Steinfeld and Keiden spent four years campaigning to get the law changed. Over 130,000 people signed an online petition in support of civil partnerships for everyone.

Penny Mordaunt, the Equalities Minister, has promised that the change in the law would happen “as swiftly as possible”.

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “The planned opening of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is wonderful news … When Labour first introduced civil partnerships but restricted them to same-sex couples we argued that this was discrimination.”

“We are delighted that Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld have continued this campaign and finally won this stunning result … The government’s decision was a necessary response to the judgment of the highest court in the land.”