It's official: Gay marriage is legal in Britain

Submitted by ILGA-Europe

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Gay marriage is legal in the UK, after the Queen gave royal assent to the same-sex marriage bill.

The historic event ends years of often emotional debate about the change to the law and will be greeted with euphoria by gay rights campaigners.

The marriage (same sex couples) bill passed a vote in the Commons yesterday evening, after MPs waved through amendments made in the Lords.

That cleared away its last parliamentary hurdle. The first gay and lesbian weddings will take place next summer.

Opponents were still angry at the passage of the bill and there are fears in Tory HQ that it will be a continued sore point with elderly Conservative voters.

It is "astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted, has been bulldozed through both Houses", Tory MP Gerald Howarth said.

"I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches. Offending large swathes of the Conservative party is not a good way of going about it."

The bill allows religious organisations to opt-in to holding gay weddings, although the Church of England and Church in Wales are banned from doing so.

Ironically, the enforcement of the state churches' ban was one of the first pieces of legislation restricting gay culture since Section 28.

MPs' decision not to oppose Lords amendments has several consequences.

There will be additional protections for transgender couples, who will be able to change sex and stay married.

There will be a review on whether humanists can conduct marriages. There are concerns that allowing this might triggered legal demands from other groups, such as self-identified 'Jedis', to be able to conduct weddings, but supporters say humanists are entitled to the same rights as religious groups.

There will also be reviews of pension arrangements for gay couples.

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