Campaign group says rise in same-sex weddings in Northamptonshire is 'a sign of good things for the future'

Picture: Press AssociationPicture: Press Association
Picture: Press Association | pa
One in 39 weddings in Northamptonshire are now same-sex, new figures reveal.

With homosexual couples making up a growing percentage of weddings across England and Wales, Stonewall said it was a "hopeful sign of more good things to come".

In Northamptonshire, 79 same-sex weddings were conducted in 2017, the latest Office for National Statistics data shows.

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At 2.6% of all ceremonies, this is the highest annual rate since the first same-sex marriages were recorded, in 2015.

It means the area is below the average across England and Wales, where 2.9% of weddings involved same-sex couples in 2017.

Of the weddings held in Northamptonshire, 23 were between men and 56 between women.

However, the data does not include same-sex civil partnerships which were converted into marriages.

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Though the proportion of same-sex weddings was a record in England and Wales, the 6,932 in 2017 decreased slightly from the 7,019 the year before.

Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said: "It’s wonderful to see the numbers of same-sex couples getting married and celebrating their love in England and Wales.

"While there’s still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many lesbian, gay, bi and trans people is truly equal and many same-sex couples across the world aren’t able to marry, this news is a hopeful sign of more good things to come."

Across England, the number of marriages has remained steady over the last five years, with 242,842 in 2017.

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Kanak Ghosh, from the ONS, said: “Marriage rates for opposite-sex couples are now at the lowest level on record.

"This continues a gradual long-term decline seen since the early 1970s, with numbers falling by a third over the past 40 years."

The same ONS figures show the rate of opposite-sex couples marrying in a religious venue in Northamptonshire has stayed broadly the same.

Of the 3,015 marriages in Northamptonshire in 2017, 25% were conducted in a church, synagogue or other religious venue, compared to 23% across England and Wales.

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Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, said the vast majority of people don't identify as religious.

He said: "So it's not surprising that couples don't look to religion to celebrate the most meaningful moments in their lives anymore.

"Instead they want non-religious ceremonies that reflect their beliefs, their values, and their love."