Calls to reform honours system to include same-sex spouses

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

There have been calls for a shake-up to the honours system, to allow same-sex spouses to use a title as wives can.

The current honours system permits a woman to use the title ‘Lady’ if she is married a man with the title ‘Sir’ – but does not recognise same-sex marriages at all.

As such, a woman cannot use the title ‘Lady’ if she marries a woman with equivalent female title ‘Dame’ – while male spouses are not able to use titles at all, gay or straight.

The legal quirk is one of the reasons why Sir Elton John’s husband David Furnish is not ‘Sir’ David Furnish. If the singer had married a woman, she would be Lady John.

As the anniversary of the first same-sex marriages approaches, some are calling for the system to be shaken up, to treat all spouses in the same way, regardless of sexuality or gender.

Mark Llewellyn-Slade said: “While this dollop of inequality is unlikely to affect a huge number of people, the issue should be addressed sooner rather than later as it gives out the wrong message to the gay community and wider society.

“We know from experience that titles are important to the wives of titled men, why should partners in a gay marriage not benefit from the same privileges?

“It would be a shame to see titles for wives of titled men removed to achieve equality, I’d much rather see everyone get a title, whatever that might be.”