While Brighton in England may have bid for the first civil partnerships in the UK by opening its town hall doors just after midnight on December 21st, a more low-key celebration is set to ring the new Civil Partnerships laws in.
Due to a mistake at Scotland’s Registrar General, five same-sex couples will see their relationship legally recognized a day before the rest of Scotland, England and Wales.
Although the new laws say couples must wait a full 15 days from the day of giving notice of their intention to hold a civil partnership, a misunderstanding in Scotland means the lucky couples will celebrate their ceremony a day earlier.
According to the Sunday Herald, the Registrar General did not check the new legislation thoroughly enough and thought the 15 days should be counted from December 5th.
Rather than force the five couples to drop their plans, the Registrar allowed them “special dispensation” to hold their ceremonies on December 20th.
Duncan McNiven, Scotland’s Registrar General, said he was glad the mistake meant couples north of the border would be “pioneering” civil partnerships.
“It was a minor mistake on our part because we had simply misunderstood what the legislation said,” McNiven told the newspaper. “We thought the 15-day rule started on the day the notice was given, but you actually count one day after the notice is given. We had been saying the 20th was the first possible date when in actual fact it was the 21st.”
When the new laws were passed by parliament last year, Brighton’s council and gay advocacy groups were quick to reinforce the city’s title as the UK’s gay capital, announcing they would host the first civil partnership by opening at one second past midnight on December 21st.
As well as the new Scottish “mistake,” legal differences mean Northern Ireland will also open its doors to lesbian and gay couples on the 20th, since the region must only wait 14 days to give notice of marriage and civil partnerships.
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