• Kathryn & Donna were married in the Sydney British Consulate in February this year. (SameLove)
The British High Commissioner has even performed a few herself.
By
Ben Winsor

25 May 2016 - 9:03 AM  UPDATED 25 May 2016 - 9:14 AM

The British Foreign Office has performed more same-sex weddings in Australia than in any other country, according to figures provided to SBS by the British High Commission.

Out of 280 same-sex marriages performed in British embassies and high commissions around the world, 250 of them have occurred in Australia. 

Alex Beatty from the High Commission said the figures weren't surprising given the relationship between the two countries. It's estimated 1.5 million Australians either have British citizenship or have family ties which make them eligible to apply.

"The service is something that we’re pleased to offer and happy to perform,” Beatty said. “They’re particularly popular with our staff because,  as you can imagine, most of our staff deal with people who are in some kind of particular difficulty.

"It's nice to do one really," he said.

High Commissioner Menna Rawlings has officiated a number of ceremonies herself at the British residence in Deakin, Canberra. 

“Almost always the feedback we get from the couples we marry is fantastic,” Beatty said.

The most popular location for the ceremonies is in Sydney. The British Consulate on Macquarie Place has hosted 93 ceremonies in their conference room, which overlooks the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House. 

Christopher Ashworth, who married his partner Anthony at the Sydney consulate, told SBS consulate staff were great.

“Very friendly and helpful, and seemed genuinely happy to be able to offer the service - although a couple mentioned they wished they didn't have to,” he said. The couple had a much bigger wedding ceremony and reception a few days earlier – only 10-20 people can fit in the consulate’s conference room.

“We were holding out for it to be legal here for a long time but it wasn't to be, so the ceremony at the High Commission was our way to 'make it legal'. It was a much smaller affair,” Mr Ashworth said.

A further 71 ceremonies were held in Melbourne, 45 in Perth, 22 in Brisbane and 19 in Canberra. Another 121 couples have had their civil partnerships converted into marriages.

A 2013 British law allows British citizens to marry in British diplomatic posts where local authorities do not object, and where there is no ability to marry under local law. At least one partner must have UK citizenship.

If the High Commissioner herself is not on hand, ceremonies are usually performed by senior diplomatic staff or a consular official.

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