THE first opposite sex civil partnership has taken place in the county.

Charli Hartley and Fred Hartley, both aged 29 and from Broadway, were among the first couples in the country to became civil partners by signing the partnership agreement at Worcester Register Office based at County Hall.

Charli Hartley said: “Neither of us subscribe to the religious beliefs, nor the gender stereotypes and notion of ownership, that come with marriage. Many people have said to us in the past ‘why not just marry? You don’t have to say the typical vows, celebrate in your own way, and then you’ll get the legal status that you want. It never sat right with us, no matter what people said. Our relationship will not change as a result of this, but to have the legal rights, means a lot. For us, the civil partnership is a contract for legal status and we don’t need that to prove our love and devotion for each other by signing a document. We made that commitment to each other long ago in our hearts.”

Civil partnerships in the United Kingdom are a form of civil union granted under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, allowing couples irrespective of sex to be legally joined. The option was previously only available to same-sex couples, but campaigners successfully argued that denying a mixed-sex couple the same right was discrimination.

The couple attended the ceremony with their daughter, Aurora Grace, one, and their two witnesses Charli’s sister and their best friend. Also part of the family is their dog, Shadow, a Siberian Husky who they rescued in 2014.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member with responsibility for communities, said: “Congratulations to Charli and Fred on their civil partnership. I wish them all the best for their future together.”

The happy couple celebrated with a meal with both sets of parents at a restaurant after the ceremony on Tuesday, December 31 at 9.20am.