Lesbian and gay couples in England and Wales are expected to be able to marry soon, after a same-sex marriage bill was passed by the House of Lords.

On Monday, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill successfully went through its third reading in the House. Many of the peers wore pink carnations to show their support for the historic bill.

In a speech, the openly gay Lord Alli said: “As a gay man over those 15 years you have changed my life. You have given me dignity where there was sometimes fear. You have given me hope where there was often darkness and you have given me equality where there was sometimes prejudice. This is a special place and I am proud to have figured in it.”

The bill was sent back to the House of Commons for final approval. This is seen as a formality as the legislation had previously been overwhelmingly passed by MPS in February.

The bill must then be approved by the Queen, another technicality, and will become law.

“It’s impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends,” said Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of LGBT rights group Stonewall.

“The Bill’s progress through Parliament shows that, at last, the majority of politicians in both Houses understand the public’s support for equality ヨ though it’s also reminded us that gay people still have powerful opponents.”

When it becomes law, same-sex couples in England and Wales will be able to marry in civil and religious ceremonies, although the Church of England is excluded from conducting same-sex marriages.

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