Gay couple tie knot in British Antarctic Territory’s first same-sex wedding

Stephen Carpenter and Eric Bourne have become the first same-sex couple to marry in British Antarctic Territory

The first same-sex wedding has taken place in the British Antarctic Territory, on board the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Polar research ship crew members Stephen Carpenter, from Caerphilly, and Eric Bourne, from Rochford, Essex became the first same-sex couple to wed in the British Antarctic Territory, atop the boat in which they are stewards.

The wedding on Sunday (24 April), overlooking the Antarctic Peninsula, was officiated by the boat’s captain, Will Whatley, and was celebrated along with the 30 crew members, according to the BBC.

“Antarctica is such an incredible place,” Carpenter told the news outlet.

“We have been together for 20 years but now we’ve both been to Antarctica together, it felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot.

“We’ve even had the coordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings.”

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Antarctic Wedding
(Rich Turner)

The couple first met working aboard RFA Sir Percivale before being deployed in the Gulf War, and have now been together for 20 years.

Since then, they have travelled the world’s oceans, and currently work together on the research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, which is on its maiden voyage in Antarctica.

Bourne said: “We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory.

“We feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together.”

Since marriage law, making it easier for marriages to be arranged in the Territory, was reformed in 2016 there has been just one other wedding between British Antarctic Survey staff, before Carpenter and Bourne.

The pair’s marriage will be registered by the British Antarctic Territory Government, and it will be valid in the UK.

Captain Whatley said: “It was such an honour to be officiating Eric and Steve’s wedding.

“The RRS Sir David Attenborough is not only our place of work but also our home, and it is a privilege to help two integral members of our crew celebrate their special day.”

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