The British government is finally considering extending the current legal recognition of gay relationships into full marriage rights.
Same-sex couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships, which guarantee the same rights as marriage, since 2005, but LGBT activists have been campaigning for full marriage equality.
Now Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has revealed that the government will start consultations about the issue.
“Over the last few months I have spoken to a lot of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people and campaign groups and it became clear there is a real desire to address the differences between civil marriage and civil partnerships,” said Featherstone.
“We are going to be the first British government to formally look at what steps can be taken to address this.”
The statement comes shortly after reports that restrictions on barring civil partnership ceremonies from taking place in religious places of worship are to be lifted by the government.
This will give the right to Churches and religious bodies to decide whether or not to allow these ceremonies on their premises.
“This is a very important step forward for many lesbian and gay people of faith and an important issue of religious freedom,” said Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of LGBT rights group Stonewall.
“It will, we believe, serve as a significant step forward towards extending the legal form of marriage to gay people.”