First Scottish gay marriage held in Australia

Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster celebrate in Australia. Picture: contributed
Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster celebrate in Australia. Picture: contributed
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IT was a simple affair with just a few loved ones gathered to watch the couple tie the knot.

There were no tear-jerking speeches, no full choir and no extravagant wedding cake as Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster signed the register to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

The low-key ceremony was followed by a lunch with family and friends, and a relaxing afternoon as the pair enjoyed the start of their married life.

Indeed, outside the doors of the British Consulate, passers-by might never have known that the happy couple were in fact the first in Scottish history to tie the knot – despite holding their nuptials in the Australian city of Melbourne.

The wedding was held at 11.01am Australian Eastern Daylight Time today – or a minute past midnight in Scotland – when new legislation came into effect after the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of permitting gay marriages in February.

Couples already in civil partnerships were today allowed to convert to a marriage for the first time, and same-sex couples can give notice of intention to marry with ceremonies taking place from December 31.

Speaking before the ceremony, Douglas, who hails from Eskbank, Dalkeith, said: “We knew we could convert our civil partnership at the British Consulate, but in the course of setting this up we discovered we were going to be the first people to do this. It was a bit of a surprise, to be honest.”

The loved-up couple, both 47, have been together for nearly seven years after 
meeting at a networking event in Munich in May 2008.

Although they moved to Australia in 2012 to be near Peter’s family, they held their civil partnership ceremony at Fenton Tower, North Berwick, on August 28, 2010, near to where Douglas’ parents still live.

Douglas, a former George Watson’s College pupil, said: “That day was the special one but it is important for us to be able to call our relationship a marriage. When we had a civil partnership we believed very much that the legislation was good and the government was doing everything possible to make civil partnership equal to marriage.

“But what we noticed afterwards was people didn’t believe that a civil partnership was equal to a marriage and I experienced that attitude from many people. The only way our relationship will be respected properly is if there is no distinction between straight and gay relationships.”

Douglas, who works in scientific PR, added: “I was very pleased to see Scotland at the forefront of this movement.”

Scotland has become “a leading light” in terms of equality, said Tom French, policy and public affairs co-ordinator at Leith-based charity The Equality Network.

He said: “Today is both a day of celebration and a hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights in Scotland, both in terms of equality in the law and the way same-sex relationships are viewed in society.”

Ten couples planned to turn their civil partnerships into marriages today at Edinburgh Registry Office in George IV Bridge.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com