Gay wedding ban on Master of the Queen's Music

Last updated at 10:17 06 January 2007

The Queen's composer has been banned from having a gay wedding on his remote Scottish island.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, one of the world's leading virtuosos, planned to marry his partner of six years in a civil ceremony on the Orkney isle of Sanday next month.

A 'who's who' of guests from the worlds of classical and pop music had been invited to the nuptials.

But Orkney Islands Council has refused to allow the local registrar Charlie Ridley, who is a friend of Sir Peter, to perform the marriage.

A furious Sir Peter, 72, is now threatening to take action against the council if he and builder Colin Parkinson, 52, are not allowed to wed.

Sir Peter, Master of the Queen's Music, has lived in Orkney for 37 years, the last nine on Sanday.

Ironically, his works include An Orkney Wedding, and he was even composing a special piece for the big day.

He and his partner intended to tie the knot on the Sanday Light Railway, arriving by train with Mr Ridley - who built it - on the footplate.

But the council says the couple can be married only in the Orkney capital of Kirkwall by the registrar there, an idea which has been rejected by Sir Peter.

Speaking from his home yesterday, Sir Peter said: 'We are under the impression that a local registrar can conduct civil ceremonies. 'Everybody can get married

where they live except me, it seems.'

He added: 'I am taking legal advice over this. It would not have the same meaning to get married elsewhere but I will not give the council the pleasure of me marrying in Kirkwall.

'We will do it elsewhere in the UK if we cannot do it on Sanday with Charlie.'

Mr Ridley has accused the council of 'anti-gay discrimination' and said he was still determined to wed the pair.

A statement from the council said: 'In common with all the other home-based registrars in the Orkney Island Council registration district, the Sanday registrar is not authorised to carry out civil partnership ceremonies. istrar authorised to carry out Civil Partnership ceremonies is at Kirkwall Registration Office.

'OIC will be discussing this situation with all those concerned to find an acceptable solution within council procedure.'

Mr Ridley believes the council is now conspiring to force him to shut down his railway on Sanday as a result of his application to perform a civil partnership ceremony.

It has told him he needs a public entertainment licence - costing £5,000 a year - even though he does not charge for the railway, a popular tourist attraction which Sir Peter officially opened last summer.

He claims there has never been an accident on the attraction and has vowed to leave the island.

Mr Ridley said: 'The council approved the planning application for the railway and we have been operating with no problems.

'But as soon as I apply for this gay civil partnership, I get this letter which effectively closes us.'