Antarctica hosted its first gay wedding when a same-sex couple working onboard the polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough got married on Sunday. 

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Eric Bourne from Rochford, Essex, and Stephen Carpenter, from Caerphilly, Wales, tied the knot at Rothera Research Station, in the first same-sex wedding to take place in British Antarctic Territory, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) announced on social media. 

Wedding Rings Engraved With Special Message

Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter work as stewards on the polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough. Photo: British Antarctic Survey/ Rich Turner.

Eric and Stephen work as stewards on the research ship and have been together for 20 years. The wedding was attended by around 120 guests comprised of the ship’s crew and the team at Rothera. Captain Will Whatley, Master of RRS Sir David Attenborough, told the BBC that it was an “honour” to officiate the wedding ceremony.

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“Eric and Stephen have spent the past two decades travelling the world together on board various ships. Eric has been working for the British Antarctic Survey for the past three years. They decided to get married when Stephen joined the crew of the SDA and they realised Antarctica would be the perfect place for their wedding!” said BAS. 

Captain Will Whatley, Master of RRS Sir David Attenborough, officiated the first gay wedding in the British Antarctic Territory. Photo: British Antarctic Survey/ Rich Turner.

Before leaving for Antarctica, the couple had got their wedding rings engraved with ’67 34′ S 68 08′ W’ – the geographical coordinates of their wedding ceremony.

Perfect Place To Tie The Knot

Around 120 guests, comprising of the ship’s crew and Rothera research team members attended Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter’s wedding. Photo: British Antarctic Survey/ Rich Turner.

Eric told the BBC that they considered themselves “very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together.” Stephen added that when the couple realised that they both would be in Antarctica “it felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot.”

The couple will celebrate the wedding with their friends later this year in Spain.

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In 2016, marriage laws in British Antarctic Territory, which is based in the UK’s Foreign office, were reformed to allow weddings to take place in the region. The wedding was registered by the British Antarctic Territory Government and will be valid in the UK, the BBC said.

Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter the first gay couple to get married in British Antarctic Territory hitch a ride on their unusual wedding vehicle. Photo: British Antarctic Survey/ Rich Turner.

Previously, another couple, both staff members, had got married in the Territory. Eric and Stephen are the first gay couple to get married in the Territory.

Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter’s wedding rings (right) were engraved with geographical coordinates of the location of their wedding ceremony. The wedding cake (left). Photo: British Antarctic Survey/ Rich Turner.

The British Antarctic Survey is the UK’s national polar research institute.



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