Earl of Devon forced to sell family silver after banning civil partnership ceremonies

PinkNews Staff Writer July 2, 2009
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An Earl who refused to allow civil partnership ceremonies to be held at his stately home is now having to sell off family heirlooms after losing £200,000 a year from having his marriage licence withdrawn.

Lord Devon, whose family seat is Powderham Castle, had refused to allow a gay male couple to hold their civil partnership there last year, saying he had to follow his religion.

His licence was then revoked by Devon County Council as of January this year. He is no longer allowed to hold straight wedding ceremonies or civil partnerships at his Exeter home.

The Earl is now auctioning some 17th century literature at Sotheby’s to try to raise £100,000 for modernisation work needed for the castle.

He told the Daily Telegraph that the sale of the books was unrelated to the loss of his licence but admitted money was needed to repair the castle.

He said: “We need to raise quite a large sum of money at the moment because we have done a lot of investment work on the castle.

“We are selling [the books] to try and raise money because we have invested a lot of cash to provide new facilities for the public. We cannot afford to have a large overdraft. So we saw it necessary to get the finances straight and to pay off the overdraft.”

At the time, Stonewall praised the prompt actions of the council and described their decision to revoke his licence as “significant.”

The case was the first time action had been taken against a venue in light of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which came into force in 2007. Civil partnerships became legal in December 2005.

It is against the law to discriminate in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.

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