Hotels and register offices to turn away 'pink weddings'

Gay and lesbian couples will soon gain official recognition, but it won't stop discrimination

More than a third of the venues currently used for marriage parties will refuse to let gay and lesbian couples celebrate civil partnerships when these become law later this year, according to the country's leading firm of gay wedding planners.

The scale of the opposition has infuriated equality campaigners, who have welcomed civil partnerships - the first official recognition for same-sex couples. It has also been condemned by the equality minister, Meg Munn.

The Stonewall campaign group has appointed Bindmans, a leading law firm, to bring legal challenges against venues that refuse to host same-sex ceremonies. They may also face boycotts.

Under the new legislation, gay and lesbian couples will be able to make a legal commitment giving them the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples, including pension rights and next-of-kin status.

There is concern that some register offices have joined the opposition. All offices will be required to provide civil partnership registration. But it is up to individual local authorities whether same-sex couples can have a ceremony at the register office as well.

So far, two councils, Bromley in Kent and Lisburn in Northern Ireland, have banned gay ceremonies, while a significant minority has yet to make a ruling.

Britain's 174 register offices are meeting this week to address the issue. Richard Edwards, spokesman for the Association of Register and Celebratory Services, said the majority of offices have not been able to give gay couples clear information on whether ceremonies would be allowed.

The decision on allowing ceremonies is made by councillors, not the register office itself. The leader of Conservative-run Bromley council in south London, Stephen Carr, said: "It cannot be a marriage because a marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that undermining family values is dangerous."

Ms Munn, minister for women and equality, called the opposition "extremely unfortunate". Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said: "We are desperately disappointed that civil partnerships may be overshadowed by this prejudice. The Government could easily have solved the problem by amending the new protections for religious communities in the Equality Bill with similar protection for gay people."

He added that thousands of people, straight and gay, were likely to boycott hotels and venues that refused to host civil partnership ceremonies. "These sorts of incidents show that homophobia is still alive and well," he said.

Gino Meriano, founder of Pink Weddings, the UK's biggest gay wedding company, said 35 per cent of wedding venues are not prepared to host ceremonies for same-sex couples. "Sometimes they say outright, 'no, we're not interested', sometimes it's because they don't know enough about it."

Current laws do not protect gay and lesbian people from being discriminated against in the goods, facilities and services sectors. But Ms Munn told The Independent on Sunday that the Government hoped to introduce measures to outlaw such discrimination within three years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence