No takers at half of same-sex marriage venues, survey says

Prof Paul Johnson
Prof Paul Johnson
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Only around half of the churches permitting same-sex wedding ceremonies have actually conducted a marriage service, researchers have found.

Same-sex couples are prohibited from marrying in about 40,000 places of worship where different-sex marriages are allowed, and only 182 venues are registered for same-sex marriage. But most carry out only small numbers of ceremonies, the research team from the Universities of York and Leeds discovered.

A survey conducted at 71 places of worship reveals that three quarters of the churches to have performed a same-sex service had welcomed couples who were excluded from marrying in their usual place of worship.

Dr Silvia Falcetta, of the University of York, said same-sex couples were at “a significant disadvantage”.

“They are more likely to live in an area where there is no scope to be married in a place of worship according to a desired religious ceremony,” she said.

The researchers also found that registering a church for same-sex marriage had sometimes alienated parishioners and attracted opposition and antagonism from other religious groups nearby.

But Prof Paul Johnson, head of the sociology department at York, said the process had sometimes brought benefits. “Some places of worship regard their commitment to same-sex marriage as a positive way of advertising and marketing their faith and practice,” he said.

The 2013 law which sanctioned same-sex marriage protects ministers, choristers and others who do not want to participate. But the researchers said very few people had taken advantage of the provision.

Prof Robert Vanderbeck of Leeds University, said, “In 90 per cent of places of worship, no person has refused to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony.”