Hackney gives first licence for civil partnership ceremonies in church

Newington Green Unitarian Church is the first religious building in Hackney to be approved as a venue for civil partnerships.

Hackney is one of the very first places in the UK to offer civil partnership ceremonies in a religious setting since the law was changed earlier this year.

Prior to the change in legislation, same sex couples who wanted to have a religious blessing as part of their civil partnership ceremony needed to first attend a register office for the legal part of the ceremony, before travelling to a different venue for the religious blessing. Now a registrar from Hackney Council will be able to register the civil partnership in a religious building, allowing the couple to go straight into a religious ceremony afterwards.

Cllr Sophie Linden, Lead Member for Equalities, Hackney Council said: “We are very pleased to announce that same sex couples can now have a civil partnership ceremony in church if they wish.”

Newington Green Unitarian Church was founded in 1708 and is one of England’s oldest Unitarian churches. Rev Andrew Pakula, minister of the church welcomed the announcement and said: “We applied for permission to conduct civil partnership registration because we believe that same sex couples are equal to straight couples, and it's only right to treat equal couples equally."

"The civil partnership blessings I have conducted have been some of the most meaningful occasions of my ministry. Often, the couples have been together a long time and never imagined a religious institution would have them - much less bless their relationship. There are often tears - sometimes from me."

Since civil partnerships were introduced in 2005, the London Borough of Hackney has welcomed more than 500 same-sex couples to the borough to form their civil partnerships.

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