Gay couple to tie the knot in first-ever same-sex wedding in British Antarctic Territory
Two polar research ship crew members are set to become the first ever same-sex couple to get married in British Antarctic Territory.
Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter have been together for 20 years, having first met on the RFA Sir Percivale before being deployed in the Gulf war.
Since then, they have travelled the world’s oceans, and currently work together on the polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, which is on its maiden voyage in Antarctica.
The couple plan to tie the knot either on Sunday (24 April) or Monday (25 April) depending on the weather, with temperatures predicted to be between -3 and 0 degrees Celsius.
They will be joined by 30 of the ship’s crew members, with the ceremony performed by ship captain Will Whatley at the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station.
Carpenter said: “Antarctica is such an incredible place. We have been together for 20 years but now we’ve both been to Antarctica together, it felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot!”
He said that they had both had the coordinates of the research station where they will be married engraved on their wedding rings before setting off to Antarctica.
Bourne added: “We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory. BAS is such a welcoming and accepting employer, and we feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together.”
Whatley, the ship’s captain who will perform the wedding, said: “It is such honour to be officiating Eric and Steve’s wedding. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is not only our place of work but also our home, and it is a privilege to help two integral members of our crew celebrate their special day.
“I’m very proud of the inclusive culture within the British Antarctic Survey and across the Polar Regions. I am thrilled for them both and wish them all the very best.”
The couple plan to have a celebration with family and friends in Spain when they return from their voyage.