SYDNEYSIDERS Gordon Stevenson and Peter Fraser made history this afternoon becoming the first same-sex couple, anywhere in the world, to wed at a UK consulate.
But the occasion didn’t faze the couple who said they were mainly pleased that their engagement – which started 19 years ago on Melbourne’s Chapel Street – was finally declared over.
The couple, who are dual Australian-British citizens, were dressed in matching kilts and sporrans in honour of their Scottish heritage for their ceremony at the UK consulate general overlooking Sydney Harbour.
However, he said gay people in Australia had waited “long enough” for marriage equality.
“I would ask Mr Abbott to reflect back to the day he and his wife were married and the joy they experienced and ask would he not want that for everyone?” he said.
In March, the Federal Government confirmed it would not block UK consulates from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies in Australia following their legalisation in Britain.
The British Consul General in Sydney, Nick McInnes, said he wished Gordon and Peter a happy life together: “I am pleased to have been involved in the wedding of Gordon and Peter today – the first British same sex marriage outside the UK.
“We’ve already held around 500 civil partnerships in our offices around Australia, but this ceremony felt particularly special.”
Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said it was time for Australia to join the UK in changing the law.
“Today is very special but it’s tinged with sadness because the second [Peter and Gordon] stepped outside the British consulate their sincere vows of commitment were no longer recognised,” he said.
“If same sex couples can marry in this building why can’t everyone marry in this great land?”
Croome urged the government to allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriage.
Sydney federal Labor MP Tanya Plibersek told the Star Observer that she wished all Australian same sex couples had the same opportunity.
“My heartfelt congratulations go to Gordon and Peter,” she said.
“Marriage equality’s time has well and truly come. I will continue to drive the case for change in the Parliament – all love should be equal.”
Meanwhile, Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich said: “Loving LGBTI couples continue to get married overseas or in overseas consulates in Australia and it’s time our government gave the LGBTI community the dignity to marry on Aussie soil.”
Greenwich added he was preparing legislation to recognise overseas same sex marriages in NSW law “but what we need is the federal marriage act amended to be about love not discrimination”.
One same-sex couple in attendance announced they too would soon be marrying at the UK consulate.
Shirleene Robinson and Sarah Midgley (pictured below) said they planned to take their vows in September with friends travelling from the UK for the occasion.
Robinson said many heterosexual couples she knows have decided to not marry in Australia as a protest against the inability of their gay friends and family from being able to do the same.