Australian Couple In Marriage First

A couple in Australia have become the first to convert their Scottish civil partnership to marriage.

Same-sex marriage comes into force in Scotland today and while ceremonies cannot take place before December 31, from today those couples who have already entered into a civil partnership can complete the necessary paperwork to convert that to a marriage.

The first couple to make use of the new law were Douglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster, who did so at the British Consulate in Melbourne, Australia, as soon as the law came into effect at one minute past midnight UK time (11.01am Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

Mr Pretsell, 47, who is originally from Edinburgh, and Mr Gloster, 47, from Melbourne, have been together for seven years and had their civil partnership in August 2010 at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, East Lothian.

The couple said: "We are so proud of Scotland for introducing equal marriage and we hope that other countries like Australia will soon follow Scotland's lead.

"We always considered our civil partnership to be our marriage, but in the eyes of the law and society it wasn't held in the same regard.

"Prior to today, same-sex couples were deliberately treated as though our relationships were inferior and not worthy of the same recognition or respect.

"Well, from today it's official, we are married and we have the certificate to prove it.

"This is an important step forward for equality both in terms of the law but also in the way that LGBTI people will be viewed and treated in our society.''

The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of legislation to permit gay marriages in February when the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was passed by 105 votes to 18.

The first couple to convert their civil partnership to marriage in Scotland will be Scott, 34, and David Barclay, 33, from Glasgow, who have been together for eleven years and had their civil partnership ceremony in June 2007.

They will convert their civil partnership to marriage first thing this morning at Glasgow City Council Registration Office.

The couple said: "We are thrilled that within a matter of hours we will finally be able to call ourselves married and that our relationship will, for the first time, be seen as truly equal in the eyes of the law.

"We are very proud to be part of this historic change and want to thank the Equality Network, the Scottish Government and all those who spoke out and fought for our equality.

"This is hugely personal for us as despite being in a committed relationship for nearly 11 years, paying our taxes and making an equal contribution to society, we have always been very aware that we were not offered the same treatment or respect, and have until now been denied the equal right to get married just like our straight friends and family.

"What a way to end such a momentous year for Scotland than to be one step closer to achieving full equality for LGBTI people.''

The Equality Network, Scotland's national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality charity, who ran the Equal Marriage campaign in Scotland, welcomed the new law as a ``hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights''.

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