A terminally ill man and his partner have become the first gay couple to become civil partners following Monday’s introduction of the Civil Partnership Act.

The Act normally requires a 15-day waiting period between the application for a partnership and the ceremony. However, the waiting period is scrapped if doctors say that one partner has a terminal illness and are unlikely to recover.

Matthew Roche, who is dying from lung cancer and his partner Christopher Cramp held their ceremony just hours after the Act came into force.

Due to Mr Roche’s condition, Registrars in Brighton gave special permission for an early ceremony that took place in St Barnabas Hospice in Worthing, West Sussex.

“I really, really needed to get married and we are very lucky indeed to be given the opportunity,” Mr Roche told BBC Southern Counties: “it was a mad scramble.”

The couple who have been together for over seven years became civil partners in a ceremony that took place just two hours after Mr Cramp visited officials at Brighton Town Hall.

Mr Roche told the BBC: “I am very happy that we have managed to reach this point in our lives where we can legally get married.”

Brighton has seen a tremendous response to the change in the law with three couples camped outside the Town Hall in order to be first to register their intentions to tie the knot.