First Same-Sex Marriage Held In British Antarctic Territory


Two stewards on a polar research vessel have become the first same-sex couple to get married in the British Antarctic Territory, the British Antarctic Survey said on Monday.

Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter got hitched on Sunday in bright sunshine on the helideck of the RSS Sir David Attenborough at the BAS’s Rothera Research Station.

The ceremony — the second marriage between BAS staff since a change in the law in 2016 allowing marriages to be arranged in the territory — was held by the ship’s captain.

The British Antarctic Territory Government, based in the foreign office in London, will register the union, which will be valid in the UK.

The first couple to get married in the territory were polar field guides Julie Baum and Tom Sylvester in July 2017.

Baum made her own wedding dress using part of an old orange tent while Sylvester made the wedding rings at the research station’s metal workshop.

On Sunday, Carpenter braved the freezing temperatures in a kilt — and snow boots — while the ship’s crew, in full uniform, officially welcomed the newlyweds, forming an archway by holding aloft ice axes.

He said Antarctica, with a backdrop of icebergs and snow-covered mountains, was “the perfect place” to get married.

Before heading south, the couple had the coordinates of the location — 67 34′ S 68 08′ W — engraved into their wedding rings.

“We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory,“ Bourne said.

The pair received toasts and telegrams and heard speeches from their best men before tucking into a wedding cake topped with penguins.

A larger reception with all staff at the research base will take place on May 8 when the ship returns to Rothera research station.

A celebration for their family and friends in Spain, where Bourne lives, is planned for later this year.