Gay Marriage FAQs

When can we get married?

It is now legal to have a gay marriage. The first gay marriages took place in England and Wales on 29 March under the new Marriage (Same Sex couples) Act 2013.

How do we convert a civil partnership into a gay marriage?

Couples who have already had a civil partnership will be able to convert their relationship into a marriage but they do not have to. It is expected that such conversions will be able to take place by the end of 2014.

Couples will either be able to complete a form to convert their civil partnership or opt to have another ceremony. The conversion is likely to cost couples a small administrative fee. Further details are expected shortly.

One benefit will be the greater international recognition of same-sex marriage as it will be easier to explain than civil partnerships.

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Can we have a gay marriage in a religious setting?

Religious organisations will have to opt in to offer weddings. However, the Church of England and Church in Wales have been banned under the law from doing so.

The law states that no religious organisation or individual minister will be compelled to marry same-sex couples or allow it to take place on their premises.

A discrimination claim cannot be brought against a religious organisation or individual for refusing to marry a same-sex couple.

The Quakers and the Liberal and Reform Jewish synagogues are in favour of same-sex marriage and will allow ceremonies to take place on their premises.

What if I have already had a gay wedding abroad?

Since 29 March 2014, same-sex couples who married abroad, for example, in Canada, will automatically be recognised by the UK Government as married. Previously, they were recognised as civil partners.


What if I am posted abroad with the Armed Forces?

Same-sex marriages will be allowed in some British consulates and armed forces bases overseas, with military chapel weddings available from June 2014.

What if I live in Scotland or Northern Ireland?

Scotland has its own bill to legalise same-sex marriage but Northern Ireland has no such plans at the moment.

What is the background to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013?

It was first debated on 24 January 2013. Despite protests from within the Conservative party, the House of Lords and religious groups, both Houses of Parliament agreed on the text of the Bill and it received Royal Assent on 17 July 2013.

It was introduced by Equalities Minister, Maria Miller, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Theresa May, Michael Gove, Eric Pickles, Hugh Robertson, Lynne Featherstone, Mrs Helen Grant and Jo Swinson.

For further information, read our article on gay marriage