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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 08:43 GMT
Ex-Boyzone singer Gately 'weds'
Andy Cowles (l) and Stephen Gately in February 2006
Gately (right) came out in 1999 while still performing with Boyzone
Former Boyzone singer Stephen Gately has "married" his long-term partner Andy Cowles in a private civil partnership ceremony in London.

Gately, 30, made an official commitment to Mr Cowles, an internet entrepreneur, in Las Vegas three years ago.

Sunday's ceremony followed recent changes to the law, which introduced same-sex civil partnerships in England.

Gately is currently pursuing an acting career. Boyzone split up after lead singer Ronan Keating quit in 1999.

Former bandmates

The ceremony, at the Goring Hotel, was attended by fellow Boyzone stars Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch, but the band's ex-manager Louis Walsh was unable to join the celebrations because of illness.

"I couldn't make it because I've got a touch of the flu," the X Factor judge said.

Sir Elton John, who was also expected to be among the guests, did not attend, according to a hotel spokesman. No further details of the ceremony were available.

Sir Elton celebrated his own civil union with partner David Furnish in December.

Gately joined the Irish boy band in 1993. The group's six number one hits included Words, No Matter What and All That I Need.

Following their split, Gately released several solo singles including top 10 hit Bright Eyes, but was dropped by his record label in 2001.

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