A government minister has spoken of her delight at the number of gay and lesbians entering civil partnerships.

Deputy Equality minister Meg Munn called the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force last December, one of the most significant pieces of legislation introduced by the Blair government.

The Office of National Statistics revealed today that over 15,000 partnerships were registered up to September this year.

An average of 1650 gay and lesbian couples are ‘getting hitched’ every month. The government have been surprised at the sheer number of ceremonies being performed. It had previously been thought that the concept of civil partnerships might take time to become established.

Instead tens of thousands of gay men and women have shown their desire for legal recognition, and the government are keen to remind the gay community that it was Labour that delivered the required legislation.

“I am delighted that today’s statistics show Civil Partnerships have proved even more popular than we had expected, with more than 31,000 people’s commitment is now rightly recognised in law,” Ms Munn told PinkNews.co.uk .

“The Civil Partnership Act stands as an example of advancing social justice through removing barriers to basic rights, and in this instance, to those who had been denied them for too long.”

There has been support for partnerships across the political spectrum since the first ceremony was performed in Belfast last December.

David Cameron made a positive reference to gay partnerships in his speech to the Tory party conference earlier this year.

He said that there was something special about marriage that is not about religion or morality, but also about “the two of us together, and that really matters.”

Mr Cameron then told the Bournemouth gathering: “And by the way, I think it matters, and I think it means something, whether you are a man or a woman, or a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. I am proud that we supported civil partnerships.”