Current Affairs

Orkney Council moves to quell civil partnerships row

Tony Grew January 8, 2007
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Officials at Orkney Islands Council have moved to try and calm accusations of homophobia, after they refused a leading British composer permission to get married on his home island.

Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, the Master of the Queen’s Music, had planned a glittering ceremony for himself and his partner Colin Parkinson on the remote island of Sanday.

However, the council have told the composer that the registrar on the island is not authorised to perform civil partnerships, and that 72-year-old Sir Peter would have to travel to the main island of Orkney for the ceremony.

A spokesman for the council told that, “We hope to quickly arrange a meeting to discuss all the issues concerned and find a speedy solution that is within the constraints of the law and Council procedure.

“The Kirkwall Registrar is able to carry out civil partnerships at any registrar’s premises in Orkney or at a premises that has been licensed for the purpose of civil marriages and this, of course, includes Sanday.”

This would seem to be a compromise whereby Sir Peter can have his civil ceremony on Sanday, but with a different registrar.

The row had threatened to affect the vital tourist trade to the island, after gay rights organisation Stonewall Scotland accused Orkney Island Council of homophobia and OutRage! founder Peter Tatchell called for a tourist boycott of the islands.

“If this ban remains I suspect there will be calls for a tourist boycott from the gay community. Even many heterosexual people feel revolted by discrimination. It is very damaging to Orkney’s image and is a major PR blunder,” he said.

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