Gay couple make history with their same-sex wedding in Antarctica


gay couple british antarctic territory same-sex marriage
Images: Rich Turner, British Antarctic Survey

Two crew members from a polar research ship are the first same-sex couple to marry in the British Antarctic Territory.

Stewards Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter (pictured above), have been together for 20 years. They both work on research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough.

And their ship’s captain Will Whatley married the pair at the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) remote Rothera Research Station (pictured above) in a big first.

The pair are both experienced seafarers and for years have travelled the world together on a variety of ships.

Eric has worked for BAS for the past three years. After Stephen also joined the ship’s crew, the pair decided to get married after realising Antarctica was the perfect place.

They tied the knot overlooking the Antarctic Peninsula, complete with mountain peaks and icebergs in the bay. The couple say the incredible vista is their favourite.

gay couple british antarctic territory same-sex marriage

Gay couple will celebrate marriage will 100 of their colleagues at Antarctica base

Stephen Carpenter said the icy continent is “such an incredible place.”

“We have been together for 20 years but now we’ve both been to Antarctica together,” he said.

“It felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot.

“We’ve even had the co-ordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings.”

gay couple british antarctic territory same-sex marriage

Thirty crew of the research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough watched the couple’s ceremony.

Bourne said they were both very proud their marriage is the first in British Antarctic Territory. He said their employer is so “welcoming and accepting”.

“We feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together,” he said.

The couple are now planning a wedding celebration with their family and friends in the sunnier climate of Spain, later this year.

As the men’s wedding was in the British Antarctic Territory, their marriage is valid in the UK.

It’s only the second marriage between staff there since laws were changed in 2016 to make it easier and inclusive of same-sex couples.

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