Same-sex couples denied religious marriage ceremonies

Discrimination against same-sex couples denied religious marriage is endemic, says a new study.

Research by academics at the Universities of Leeds and York highlights the prevailing extent of discrimination against same-sex couples wanting religious marriage ceremonies.

Professor Robert Vanderbeck from the School of Geography at Leeds and Professor Paul Johnson, from the Department of Sociology at York, examined the legal framework in England and Wales that allows religious organisations to refuse to marry same-sex couples. Professor Vanderbeck and Professor Johnson found that same-sex couples are excluded from approximately 40,200 places of worship in which opposite-sex couples can get married.

Same-sex couples are not permitted to marry in any of the 17,350 churches of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, or in nearly 23,000 other places of worship, such as Roman Catholic churches, Islamic mosques, and Hindu temples.

Although same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales since 2014, religious organisations are under no obligation to extend their marriage services to gay couples.

Only 139 places of worship are registered to perform same-sex marriage in England and Wales, meaning approximately 99.5 per cent do not offer it. Just 23 same-sex couples had a religious marriage ceremony in 2014, compared with over 68,000 opposite-sex couples.