Queen’s composer denied civil partnership

BTL Staff
By | 2018-01-15T17:27:56-04:00 January 18th, 2007|News|

The Queen of England’s official composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, has been denied the right to enter an official civil partnership with his longtime partner on the remote Scottish Orkney island of Sanday, where they live.
The Orkney Islands Council blocked the wedding, claiming the local Sanday marriage registrar, Charlie Ridley, who later resigned inprotest, was not authorized to perform gay unions.
Instead, the council said, Davies and partner Colin Parkinson could travel 90 minutes by boat to the Orkney capital of Kirkwall and marry at the central registration office. Later, following extensive media coverage, the council reportedly also offered to send a senior registrar from Kirkwall to Sanday to conduct the ceremony.
Reports varied as to why Ridley allegedly lacked authority to perform civil partnerships, with some saying he was unqualified because he was too new on the job, and others saying the council always intended for the ceremonies to be performed only by one or two Kirkwall-based senior registrars because it didn’t expect there to be any demand elsewhere.
Davies initially sought legal help to challenge the edict against Ridley, but gave up on Jan. 10 after Ridley resigned his position.
“Everything has gone so sour, it’s spoilt everything for us,” Davies told local media. “We are under the impression that a local registrar can conduct civil ceremonies. … I will not give the council the pleasure of me marrying in Kirkwall. We will do it elsewhere in the U.K.”
Meanwhile, the islands council appears to have taken punitive action against Ridley, who operates a small, free tourist attraction called the Sanday Light Railway. In the letter in which Ridley was informed he could not conduct civil partnerships, the council also told him his miniature railway lacks a required $10,000 annual public entertainment license, which Ridley says he cannot afford.
“The council approved the planning application for the railway and we have been operating with no problems,” he told local media. “But as soon as I apply for this gay civil partnership, I get this letter which effectively closes us.”
As a result, Ridley has begun dismantling the $100,000 railway.
On Jan. 6, well-known British gay activist Peter Tatchell called for a tourism boycott of the Orkneys if officials don’t stop being obstructionist.
“The Orkney officials seem to be creating no-go areas for civil partnerships,” he told Scotland’s Sunday Times. “It smacks of sexual apartheid.”
Sanday has 521 residents.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.