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Elton John: Unrest in Belfast made me fear protesters would ruin our nuptials

Sir Elton John and David Furnish wave as they leave as a married couple following their civil partnership ceremony at the Guildhall, Windsor on December 21, 2005 in Windsor, Berkshire. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Sir Elton John and David Furnish wave as they leave as a married couple following their civil partnership ceremony at the Guildhall, Windsor on December 21, 2005 in Windsor, Berkshire. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

By David O'Dornan

Pop legend Elton John has said he was "genuinely worried" about his ceremony with partner David Furnish after watching protests in Northern Ireland over civil partnerships on the news on the eve of his big day.

Sir Elton and David were due to enter a civil partnership on December 21, 2005 - two days after the first set of civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples in the UK were held at Belfast's City Hall.

Elton (72) said: "The night before, we had watched the TV news about the first civil partnerships to take place in Northern Ireland - there was a shorter registration period there - and how the couples had faced protests outside their ceremonies, evangelical Christians bellowing at them about 'sodomite propaganda', people throwing flour bombs and eggs.

"I was genuinely worried - if that was what was happening to everyday people, what kind of reception would a really famous gay couple get?

"David assured me everything would be OK: the police were fully aware of the threat and had set up an area for protesters, where they couldn't ruin the day."

Elton planned a large bash to celebrate their nuptials at their Woodside home in Old Windsor, complete with three marquees following the ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor - but unlike in Northern Ireland, there was no protest.

In his autobiography, Me, he said: "The news from Windsor was that there were crowds lining the streets and a party atmosphere. No one wanted to attack us: instead, people had turned up with banners and cakes and presents for us."

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Two days earlier two women, Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close, exchanged vows at Belfast City Hall, followed by a gay couple and another lesbian couple. But around 40 people staged a protest outside, including Free Presbyterian preacher Reverend David McIlveen.

He said the Bible described marriage as "a relationship between male and female for the bringing up of children" and added: "It is revealed as being an honourable relationship whereas the Bible speaks of same sex relationships as being an abomination. You cannot reconcile the two."

Up until last week same-sex marriage was banned in Northern Ireland. Last July, Westminster passed legislation compelling the UK government to legalise same-sex marriage here, with it passing into law on Monday past.

David Furnish and Sir Elton John (Photo by Ian West- WPA Pool/Getty Images)
David Furnish and Sir Elton John (Photo by Ian West- WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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