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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 January 2007, 10:29 GMT
Composer in civil partnership row
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (picture: John Batten)
Sir Peter has lived on the island for nine years
The Queen's composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, has abandoned plans for a civil partnership ceremony on the remote Orkney island of Sanday.

He had hoped the islands' registrar would be able to perform the ceremony.

But registrar and friend of the couple, Charlie Ridley, resigned over a row about Orkney Islands Council's refusal to allow him to officiate at the event.

The council said it hoped to find a solution within the constraints of the law and council procedure.

The composer said what should have been a happy event had been tarnished by the council's attitude.

Sir Peter and his partner, Colin Parkinson, who have lived on the island for nine years, planned to hold their ceremony next month.

Tourist boycott

However, the council said Mr Ridley, who is not yet fully trained, was not authorised to officiate over a civil partnership.

That decision was made at the council's environment, planning and protective services meeting in March last year and ratified by the full council the following month.

It has been reported that officials had said the couple would have to travel to Kirkwall on Orkney mainland for the ceremony.

The council, in a statement, said: "When civil partnership legislation came into force in December 2005, Orkney Islands Council considered that having authorised personnel based at the Kirwall and Stromness Registration Offices, able to perform civil partnerships, would be sufficient to meet the perceived demand, and this has proved so.

"They can perform the ceremony at any registrar's dwelling house in Orkney or at a premises that has been licensed for the purpose of civil marriages and this, of course, includes Sanday."

One ceremony

Gay rights campaigners said the episode had damaged Orkney's image and have called for a tourist boycott of the islands.

The government will this year introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation for goods and services.

The new rules were upheld by the House of Lords this week despite a challenge by Lord Morrow of the Democratic Unionist Party.

To date, there has been one civil partnership ceremony in Orkney, held in Kirkwall in February last year.

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