This week’s decision by councillors in Cumbria to offer civil partnership ceremonies at their registry offices has been attacked by leaders of the local Diocese.

Church leaders in the area have claimed that the civil partnership scheme will undermine the institution of marriage. Cannon Richard Pratt of the Diocese said, “the civil partnerships legislation is that it may tend to erode the unique position of marriage, all Christians would be unhappy about this.”

Mr Pratt also criticised the fact that same sex couples do not need to be a sexual relationship before being civil partners, this is denied to heterosexual couples who must consummate their relationship before they can legally considered to be married.

Ian Stewart, a spokesman for the council said that Cumbria celebrates diversity and that “Same-sex couples rightly expect the same level of service that we offer to couples entering a traditional marriage.”

It is expected that from December, 100 venues aside from council properties will be licensed to offer civil partnerships in the county of Cumbria.

Lisburn Borough Council in County Antrim and Bromley Council in Kent so far are the only councils to have banned ceremonies taking place on council property.