MORE than 70 same-sex St Helens couples have cemented their relationships via civil partnership ceremonies since 2005.
In total, 73 gay couples have become “married” in St Helens since legal recognition was first introduced in December of that year.
The most popular year was 2006, when there were 18 civil ceremonies conducted in the borough.
Since then, there have been 53 more, including five in this year so far.
Nationally, civil partnerships have proved so popular that five times more gay couples than predicted have taken advantage of legal recognition.
Official figures show that more than 50,000 same-sex couples have enjoyed civil partnership ceremonies since 2005.
It had initially been predicted that the number could be as low as 11,000.
At first, more men than women formed civil partnerships, but, since 2009, there has also been a boom in lesbian couples getting hitched.
There were almost 6,800 civil partnerships last year alone - a rise of six per cent compared to 2010.
Now, the soaring popularity of civil partnerships has seen pressure increase on the Government to introduce full gay marriage rights before the next election.
However, figures released by the Office for National Statistics also show that gay divorces are on the rise too.
There were 672 splits last year - an increase of 28 per cent compared to 2010.