Western Isles to lift ban on gay marriage

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The Western Isles (Eilean Siar) are preparing to reverse their ban on civil partnerships or gay weddings taking place on the islands.

The Western Isles became the only part of Britain to ban gay marriages after local councillors and registrars agreed to a boycott.

Registrars are permitted under the Civil Partnership Act to refuse to conduct a ceremony on moral grounds. But councillors in Stornoway voted to force the Isles to become the only place in Britain with a blanket ban on all gay ceremonies.

The policy and finance committee of the Western Isles council ratified the decision: “it is a practical decision – our officers don’t want to do them so we didn’t even go into the debate (over morality),” explained Angus Campbell, the chairman of the committee.

But now the impeding introduction of the Equality Act will make such a ban illegal as it bans businesses and public bodies from discriminating against gay people.

A spokesman for the Western Isles council said yesterday that they were aware of the new legislation adding: “we will meet our obligations under the law.”

The council now says that even if registrars boycott the ceremonies (as is their right) the council will locate a registrar willing to officiate at a ceremony held on the island.