How many LGBTQ+ people have actually wed since equal marriage was introduced?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 30: A couple of the same sex Joe Schofield (R) and Malcolm Brown from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire pose for a photograph and will marry at the Trades Hall the ceremony conducted by Ross Wright, from the Humanist Society Scotland shortly after midnight in front of friends and family in one of the first same-sex and belief category weddings in Scotland on December 30, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Same-sex couples have been able to enter into 'civil partnerships' since 2005, however following a change in the law on February 4, 2014. A couple of the same sex are now eligible to marry in Scotland. Parliament's decision to grant same-sex couples an equal right to marriage has been met with opposition from religious groups. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Equal marriage was finally introduced in England and Wales 10 years ago this week, in a historic moment for LGBTQ+ people – but how many couples have actually taken the plunge and tied the knot since then?

The first same-sex weddings took place on 29 March 2014, following the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act coming into force in England and Wales, after a bill was approved by parliament the previous summer. 

About 4,850 couples – 56 per cent female and 44 per cent male – had wed by the end of the year, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

About 162,000 LGBTQ+ people have married in England and Wales since then, meaning that in total more than 165,000 queer people in England and Wales have tied the knot since equal marriage was legalised 10 years ago.

According to the figures, by the end of 2015 an estimated 26,000 people were thought to have been in same-sex marriages. The number continued to grow and by 2018 had reached almost 121,000, before hitting 167,000 last year, the London Evening Standard reported.

In Scotland, where same-sex ceremonies have been legal since 16 December 2014, the National Records of Scotland reveal about 367 marriages recorded that year.

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In Northern Ireland, where the law came into effect a little more than four years ago, some 158 same-sex marriages took place in 2020, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. 

Prior to the ground-breaking legislation gaining Royal Assent, activists lobbied tirelessly for equality.