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A Huge Step in Civil Rights for Our Country, and an Acknowledgement That Love Conquers All

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I helped officiate the first two same sex weddings over the weekend. This is the speech I gave to introduce the first one for Kentish Town residents Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway. It was a hugely important speech as we were making history!

Ladies and Gentleman

It is a great pleasure to welcome you here tonight to Camden Town Hall on this hugely important and historic occasion - the first same sex marriage in England and Wales and indeed the marriage of Sean and Sinclair.

Sean and Sinclair have taken the brave step to take have first same sex marriages in our country - and have significant media interest in what is normally an event to share with family and friends. We'll begin the ceremony very shortly at the stroke of midnight.

It is a genuine honour to be here as mayor of Camden to share tonight with you all and take part in the proceedings. I am the first openly gay mayor our Borough has had - something that I personally am very proud of. Camden has a long and proud history in campaigning on human rights - with Ghandi studying here and indeed the international anti-Apartheid movement basing itself locally for decades. This history is what makes Camden the most culturally diverse and socially cohesive parts of London.

On reflecting upon tonight - it is astonishing to think how far LGBT rights have moved in this country. Just 47 years ago - homosexual relationships in the UK could end in imprisonment or a life of psychiatric care. This was a reality - with many such as Alan Turing choosing to sadly take their lives rather than live in fear of persecution.

Since then we have slowly but surely seen a change in laws and attitudes around LGBT rights. We've had some major hurdles, such as Section 28, and some victories like the adoption of civil partnerships. We've seen more people openly come out - from politicians, Olympic athletes, authors and actors all declaring their sexuality proudly. We've seen same sex couples adopt and we've seen gay rights largely become an issue that the main political parties agree upon.

Earlier tonight for the first time the rainbow flag, an international symbol for LGBT pride was flown for the first time on this building. Two LGBT rights campaigners from Age UK Camden joined me in putting the flag up. One of them told me that they never thought that these changes would happen in their lifetime.

Tonight is another huge step in civil rights for our country and also an acknowledgement that love conquers all.

But tonight cannot be seen as the final step. We cannot leave this wonderful celebration and think that our job is done. Throughout the UK many young LGBT teenagers face daily bullying and harassment. Gay love remains a criminal offence in 40 of the 53 Commonwealth states - and indeed recently some countries have tried to adopt legislation where LGBT people could face the death penalty for being open. The situation in many countries is gravely serious.

So tonight we celebrate not only the love of a couple and a historic milestone in England & Wales - but I hope that through Sean and Sinclair tonight, and the many other loving couples who will no doubt be following in their footsteps well into the future, that Camden and other parts of the UK will act as a beacon of hope, so that we can all live in a more tolerant and loving world.

To quote John Lennon."Love is all you need".

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