Gay civil partnerships approved for parliament
The Houses of Parliament will be opened for civil partnerships and marriages for both MPs and members of the public.
Westminster council has approved two rooms for use for the non-religious ceremonies after Speaker John Bercow began looking into the possibility of holding ceremonies for gay MPs on parliament’s grounds last year.
The move to allow them means that members of the public must also be allowed for the first time to hold their ceremonies in the Palace of Westminster.
The two rooms are the Jubilee Room, which overlooks Cromwell Green and has space for 80 people and the MPs’ dining room, with views of the Thames, which has space for 150.
MPs, peers, certain parliamentary officials and their families are currently allowed to get married in the Chapel of St Mary in Parliament.
However, religious venues cannot be used for civil partnership registrations or civil marriages so they cannot be held in the 14th century chapel.
Alison Cathcart, who has been Westminster’s Superintendent Registrar for almost 20 years and has married celebrities including Sylvester Stallone, Joan Collins and Barbara Windsor, said: “I’m delighted that this prestigious venue has been granted approval and very much look forward to conducting the first civil ceremony in such famous and historical settings.
“This will add to the rich repertoire of locations Westminster already has available for couples to tie the knot on what is one of the most important days of their lives.”
Prime minister Gordon Brown backed the move last October, while gay MP and Europe minister Chris Bryant expressed his wish to hold his civil partnership on parliament’s grounds. He became engaged to partner Jared Cranney last autumn.
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