More than 60,000 civil partnerships have been formed in the UK since the legislation first came into force.

The number of civil partnerships rose by 3.6% to 7,037 in the UK last year, provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

The average age of men forming a civil partnership in 2012 was 40, while for women the average age was 37.6.

The number of civil partnership dissolutions - dubbed gay divorces - granted in England and Wales in 2012 rose 20% to 794 from 663 in 2011.

The rise in the number of dissolutions comes as the total number of civil partnerships formed in the UK now stands at more than 60,000.

Over the eight-year period between civil partnership legislation coming into force in December 2005 and the end of December 2012, 60,454 civil partnerships were formed in the UK, equivalent to 120,908 civil partners.

The figure compares with a Government estimate in 2004 suggesting a likely take-up of between 11,000 and 22,000 people in civil partnerships in Britain by 2010.

The figures have been released after legislation introducing same-sex marriages in England and Wales received royal assent from the Queen in July, in spite of opposition from many Conservative backbenchers and religious groups.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is "proud" of The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which will allow gay marriages from next summer in England and Wales.