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It is ten years ago that Civil Partnerships became legal and for the first time gay couples could publicly and legally commit to one another.  And in that moment England became a more civilised society.  At last gay couples had a ceremony where they could affirm and celebrate their love and finally equal marriage has also come of age.

But behind this change in the law has been the suffering, and at times the oppression, even persecution,  of countless couples who had to hide their love, suppress their feelings or deny who they really were.  It is only thanks to their bravery and courage that the law finally changed and society became more accepting.

There is still a long way to go.  Homophobia still blights too many lives and too many feel that they cannot be honest about who they are for fear of the reaction of others.  And the Church of England is barred from conducting same-sex weddings, a situation that implies that, in religious terms, gay couples are some how “wrong” or somehow less that a straight couple.

The dream must be that one day no one will comment on a person’s sexual orientation, that the days of “coming out” will be gone and all that will matter is the quality of the relationship and the depth of love enjoyed.

Whilst we may be still some way from true and lasting equality, nevertheless ten years ago we did become a more civilised society and deep gratitude must be expressed for all those who dared to fly the flag for gay rights, who showed such courage and persistence, over so many generations. Nor we must forget those in other countries for whom this is tragically still the love that dares not speak its name.