Gay 'marriages' double
GAY marriages in Somerset have almost doubled in the last year according to the latest statistics. The number of civil partnerships registered with the county council has gone from 45 in 2005/06 to 70 in 2006/07.
GAY marriages’ in Somerset have soared in the last year according to the latest statistics.
The number of civil partnerships registered with the county council has gone from 45 in 2005/06 to 70 in 2006/07.
Head of legal services David Corry said: “Some of the data is incomplete so the number of same-sex services could be even higher.
“We did find there was an initial surge in same-sex ceremonies when the law changed in 2005 but numbers are probably increasing because the service is becoming more socially acceptable.”
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Equality South West, a group that helps to tackle sexual orientation discrimination, has also noticed a trend but says gay and bisexual people in rural communities may still suffer from prejudice.
Chairman Jeff Grist said: “Attitude is changing and people are feeling more comfortable about themselves but Somerset is a very unique county in that there are lots of cities and lots of rural areas.
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“It seems gay ceremonies are becoming more and more acceptable in the cities but gay people are less likely to come out’ in rural villages and small communities where everyone knows each other.
“The other reason the figures have gone up since the law changed could be the fact that under a civil partnership gay couples have similar rights as married couples.
“Before the law changed, the family of a person who was seriously ill would make decisions about their medical treatment rather than the person’s partner. Civil partnerships mean gay couples have more legal protection.”
The statistics were released by Somerset County Council as part of a document prepared about the registration service.
The statistics on the number of registrations in the county also reveal that ceremonies in register offices are down while civil marriages in approved premises such as hotels and country houses are up. Compton House in Axbridge and The Webbington Hotel near Cross are just two of the 77 approved premises in Somerset.
The registration service could also soon be in for an overhaul if the Government permits the proposed changes.
At the moment someone who lives in Sedgemoor has to register a birth or death in the district they live, but if the changes are given the go-ahead, they will be able to list them at any register office in the county.