Religious marriage of same-sex couples: A report on places of worship in England and Wales registered for the solemnization of same-sex marriage

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Publication details

DatePublished - 23 Nov 2017
Number of pages34
PublisherUniversity of York and University of Leeds
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)978-0-901931-20-7


The change in law in 2013 to allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales was a major milestone on the road to legal equality for gay men and lesbians in the United Kingdom. Same-sex couples in England and Wales now have the same opportunities as different-sex couples to marry by way of a civil ceremony in, for example, a register office or approved premises such as hotels.

However, same-sex couples who wish to marry by way of a religious ceremony in England and Wales are at a significant disadvantage to different-sex couples. Only a small number of religious organizations, and the tiniest number of places of worship, permit same-sex marriage. As a consequence, same-sex couples have very little opportunity to marry in a place of worship or by way of a religious ceremony.

Religious faith and homosexuality are not antithetical. Many same-sex couples who want to get married wish to do so according to the rites of their faith. This fact is recognized by those religious organizations that have taken the significant step of offering same-sex couples the opportunity to have a religious marriage ceremony.

This report presents findings from the first piece of empirical research on religious marriage of same-sex couples in England and Wales. Drawing on a unique dataset, it provides an insight into why places of worship take the decision to permit same-sex marriage, their experiences of offering same-sex couples a religious marriage ceremony, and the consequences of doing so.

Bibliographical note

Paul Johnson, Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology, University of York

Robert M. Vanderbeck, Professor and Head of the School of Geography, University of Leeds

Silvia Falcetta, Research Associate in the Department of Sociology, University of York

    Research areas

  • religion, same-sex marriage, sexual orientation

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