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5 Sep 2001

london gay couple first to sign partnership register

A gay male couple who are in their 60's will be the first couple to register their partnership in a civil ceremony in London.

Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell will become the first couple in Britain to register their partnership in a gay "wedding" on Wednesday 5 September with London mayor Ken Livingstone in attendance, reports The Guardian newspaper. They will register their relationship with the London Partnership Register at the Greater London authority headquarters in Westminster.

The couple who are now in their 60's have been in a relationship for 38 years. In a joint statement they said: "We have shared everything in life and own our home, but the problem arises when one goes before the other. We would not have the same rights as a married couple and would be taxed heavily, seriously affecting the security of the surviving partner.

Later this week, Linda Wilkinson, 49, and Carol Budd, 48 will step forward as the second same-sex couple to register their partnership.

The scheme was established by the Mayor who believes "London should help lead the way in tackling such inequalities as the failure of the law to recognise the partnership status of lesbians and gay men" and hopes other would follow suit.

Although the city register will not confer the same legal rights as marriage, it is expected to prove the existence of an intimate relationship if there is a subsequent legal dispute concerning issues such as tenancy, pensions and immigration rights, said Mr Livingstone.

The Greater London Authority is the first public body in the UK to recognise same-sex relationships as being on a par with heterosexual relationships. Heterosexual couples will also be eligible to register their relationship under this scheme. Couples will have to pay a fee of 85 (US$122).

United Kingdom » London England

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