After years of campaigning, gay couples in the United Kingdom are now allowed to effectively get married. The civil partnerships are not exactly the same as heterosexual marriages because they involve signing documents, not saying certain words to each other in a ceremony. However they hold the same legal status.
“That means that our relationships will be legally recognised and we’ll be legally recognised and will be protected financially and legally and it means personally we can show our love and commitment to each other in public, in front of friends and family,” said one woman planning to ‘marry’ her partner.
In Brighton a gay wedding show was held over the weekend as organisers aim to cash in on an estimated 4,500 gay couples planning to get hitched in the next year. “It’s the equality and recognition that we are partners. I mean, we have been together for 14 years,” said gay man Roger Lewis.
Event organiser Gino Meriano said: “This is the biggest step forward and it is actually history in the making because it has allowed us to have the same rights as opposite sex couples.” Britain is now the fifth country in the world to effectively allow gay marriage, alongside Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Other countries like Germany and France allow “life partnerships” to be legalised but rights are more limited than marriage. Other countries like Ireland, Italy and Poland do not allow gay marriage or same sex unions. The new partnerships in Britain only apply to same sex couples and they carry the same property, inheritance, pension, immigration and tax benefits as marriage.
The law passed last year with very little opposition – a sign of how rapidly times have changed since 1967, when homosexuality was legalised in the UK. One of the first couples to take advantage of the civil partnerships will be Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish, with their ceremony on December 21. Another pop star, George Michael, is also planning to marry his long-time partner Kenny Goss.