New Zealand armed forces host first same-sex wedding

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The New Zealand armed forces have hosted their first same-sex wedding, as two servicemen tied the knot.

Air force squadron leader Stu Pearce, who is the former chair of NZ Defence Force GLBTI group Overwatch, tied the knot with former RAF serviceman David Fenwick.

According to Overwatch, the pair married on Saturday at the airforce base chapel in Ohakea, in an “intimate and moving” service attended by the pair’s friends, family and colleagues.

Mr Pearce said: “The base chapel is a beautiful, peaceful space, very much a shrine to the airforce.

“For Dave and I to celebrate our marriage there, amongst friends, family and fellow servicemen and women, was particularly poignant.”

The service was officiated by Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley, while Chaplain Colonel Lance Lukin gave a reading and offered prayers.

Overwatch said: “It marks the first time a Defence Force Chapel has been the setting for a gay wedding.

“Since the passing of the Marriage Equality Bill in 2013 the New Zealand Defence Force has moved to ensure all serving couples who might wish to marry in a Service Chapel are allowed to do so.”

Same-sex marriage in New Zealand has been recognised since 2013 – and as the only Australasian country to recognise gay weddings, New Zealand also become a destination for foreign gay couples.

Nearly a quarter of weddings performed in the country were for Australian couples, who had travelled to the neighbouring nation for the right to marry.

Couples from China, Hong Kong and Thailand have also travelled to New Zealand to wed.