LONDON - Migrants may now be joined by their same-sex partners from overseas in order to tie the knot in the United Kingdom.
This is referred to as Civil Partnership for same-sex couples, as opposed to marriage which is for regular couples from the opposite sex.
The Philippines is one of the many countries around the world which do not recognise relationships or “marriage” between two men or two women.
In the United Kingdom however, same-sex marriage is completely legal through Civil Partnership. The most prominent Civil Partners in the UK are the singer Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish.
This is positive news for those Filipinos who are in the UK and count themselves as part of the Third Sex, if they have a same-sex lover or partner in the Philippines or in other countries.
Their lovers or partners can now apply to a British Embassy overseas to join them here as same-sex fiancée in order to get married in a Civil Partnership ceremony.
This is what happened to Iam Rigor, a permanent resident in London, and MM Mendoza, who was based in Hong Kong. Since they have had a same-sex relationship for six years, Mendoza was able to secure a fiancée visa.
Soon after arrival in the UK, the couple had their Civil Partnership officiated at the Registrar’s Office at Chelsea Town Hall, in Central London which was witnessed by relatives and friends.
Following their marriage Mendoza, the bride, expressed with laughter how she felt, “Happy. Very happy. Of course this is what every woman wishes for.”
Her “husband”, Rigor, echoed this, “Excited, happy, a there is nothing I can say, speechless, I am really happy. That is all.”
If the same-sex partner is outside the UK, he or she will need to apply for entry clearance first as a fiancé or fiancée to enable them to get married in the country.
If the same-sex partner is already in the UK and subject to immigration control, or has no permission to stay at all, before May this year they needed to obtain a Certificate of Approval (COA) from the UK Border Agency. With the abolition of the COA scheme, they will need to give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership at a designated register office in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Marizel Aruta, best man at the wedding, hoped that she and her partner will be able to have a Civil Partnership soon, “We want to be next hopefully and we're wishing them all the very best in the world for their love to last all their life.”
Her same-sex partner, Adelle Mendoza, and a brides maid, admitted that such things happen, “E I did not realise I would also have a relationship with someone like them, so that’s it.”
For Ritchie Abalayan, the second best man, this development is very welcome. "Well I think its really a good thing for people like us so we can get married and to assure our partners that we can become legal as husband and wife or partners for life. “
Abalayan also hopes that one day they will legally accept same-sex partnerships in the Philippines, and for there to be same-sex marriages like in the UK.
People who get married as Civil Partners have the same rights and responsibilities as a couple in a regular marriage.