Gay marriage: 15,000 same-sex couples wed since law change

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image captionPeter McGraith (left) and David Cabreza were one of the first couples to marry on the day it became legal

More than 15,000 same-sex marriages have taken place since it became legal in England and Wales, the first official statistics have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed a total of 15,098 couples had legally married since 2014.

Of those, 7,366 were marriages while 7,732 accounted for conversions from civil partnerships.

The number of couples opting for civil partnerships fell by 70% between 2013 and 2014 it found.

Same-sex marriage became legal just after midnight on 29 March 2014, with several couples opting to tie the knot moments afterwards.

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image captionSlightly more women have married compared to men - Teresa Millward and Helen Brearley married on 29 March 2014

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza married at 00:01 BST at Islington Town Hall having been together for 17 years.

Mr McGraith said: "I don't think things have changed for us in many ways, we were already in a long-term relationship, we already had two kids, except the visibility of gay marriage across the world starts to make a difference.

"There have always been gay men and lesbians in long-term relationships that have quite happily survived within the context of family and community, but the law caught up with the existence, and I'm hoping in other countries legislation can give people a chance."

He added: "Gay men and lesbians don't want to be defined or constrained by notions of 'traditional' marriage, but the introduction of marriage equality around the world is a signifier of a kind of progress for sexual minorities."

media captionPeter McGraith and David Cabreza, John Coffey and Bernardo Marti, and Andrew Wale and Neil Allard were among the first gay couples to marry

The ONS said the most popular month to get married so far had been August 2014 with 844 marriages. The summer months traditionally see more marriages than the rest of the year.

It also revealed 55% of marriages were between female couples and 45% male with the average age being 37 for women and 40 for men.

Teresa Millward, who married Helen Brearley in Halifax on the day it became legal, said: "It was very overwhelming. Getting married was about creating a stability and having that option to have a family and I'm now no different to my brother, my neighbours or my friends."

Since their wedding the couple have become parents to a son, Hilton.

Ms Millward, who gave birth to Hilton, said: "Helen automatically became the second parent rather than having to do anything complicated with documents and it means if anything happens to me she has the same rights as I do as a Mum and would automatically be Hilton's second parent."

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image captionPhil Robathan (left) and James Preston throw the bouquet following their wedding ceremony in Brighton

Just over half of the 15,000 weddings which have taken place have been for couples converting their civil partnerships to weddings, an option which became available in December 2014.

Couples wishing to do so must attend a register office or an approved premises to make the conversion official.

In May the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage in a referendum which saw 62% of the votes cast in favour of amending the country's constitution.

Scotland legalised the convention in December 2014 with the first gay weddings taking place on Hogmanay.

Northern Ireland is currently the only place in the UK and Ireland that has not legalised same-sex marriage.

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