MORE than 100 same-sex Wigan couples have cemented their relationships via civil partnership ceremonies since 2005.
In total, 119 gay couples have become “married” in Wigan since legal recognition was first introduced in December of that year.
Of those, there has been roughly a 50-50 split between local gay and lesbian couples.
Twenty-two of the ceremonies have taken place in licensed premises such as hotels and restaurants and the remainder have all been conducted at the town halls in Wigan and Leigh.
The first, of course, was that of popular former chief executive of Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, Rodney Hill, and his partner of more than 30 years, Christopher Wright.
In a humour-filled private ceremony, the ex-leisure boss and his partner both arrived at Haigh Hall by pink limousine in December 2005 before being entertained by a surprise cameo from the Pier Acting Company.
Nationally, civil partnerships have proved so popular that five times more gay couples than predicted have taken advantage of legal recognition.
Official figures show that more than 50,000 same-sex couples have enjoyed civil partnership ceremonies since 2005.
It had initially been predicted that the number could be as low as 11,000.
At first, more men than women formed civil partnerships, but, since 2009, there has also been a boom in lesbian couples getting hitched.
There were almost 6,800 civil partnerships last year alone - a rise of six per cent compared to 2010.
Now, the soaring popularity of civil partnerships has seen pressure increase on the Government to introduce full gay marriage rights before the next election.
However, figures released by the Office for National Statistics also show that gay divorces are on the rise too.
There were 672 splits last year - an increase of 28 per cent compared to 2010.