Gavin Williamson demands end to 'unacceptable' marriage curbs on gay members of the Armed Forces

Posted On: 
14th February 2019

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has demanded a shake-up of Britain's marriage laws to end "unacceptable" curbs on civil partnerships at military bases.

The Defence Secretary said he had been 'pushing the issue' with his Cabinet colleagues.

The frontbencher has written to Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt calling for a change to current legislation as a "matter of urgency", the Telegraph reports.

Same-sex couples who wish to tie the knot while stationed at military bases are currently hampered by the requirement for any civil ceremony to be held in a location that can be "made available to the public for use".

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Military bosses fear that any attempt to open up Ministry of Defence sites to public access could put personnel at risk.

But Mr Williamson is pressing for a change in the law so that only those with a "demonstrable link" to the Armed Forces would be able to attend.

In a letter to his Labour counterpart Nia Griffith, the Defence Secretary said: "I want to make sure that all those who want a civil marriage, civil partnership and same-sex marriage in the Armed Forces receive the same treatment as their counterparts who wish to marry in religious ceremonies.

"That is why I have asked the department to look in to all the options on making this a reality and have written to the Minister for Women and Equalities pushing the issue."

The Telegraph reports that both the Ministry of Justice and Home Office had argued that there is "no appetite" for a change to the law.

But Mr Williamson has told Ms Mordaunt he wants to see an overhaul as a "matter of urgency".

"It is unacceptable that due to the drafting of current legislation same sex couples and those wanting a civil ceremony are prevented from getting married on military bases," he said.