Sergeant Alastair Smith, 36, of the 2nd Battalion ‘The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment’, married civilian Aaron Weston on British forces territory in Dhekilia, Cyprus, becoming the first gay couple to get married on a British military base overseas.
According to reports, this is not just the first gay wedding on a British military base overseas, it is also understood to be one of the first ever at a UK army base.
The wedding – which took place on September 10 – was approved and officiated by Air Vice Marshal Mike Wigston, the commander and administrator of the Army’s sovereign base area.
According to an Army lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender website, Sgt Smith was previously married to a woman, with whom he had children. He was described as an assistant intelligence officer in Cyprus.
Speaking about the ceremony, Sgt Smith said:
‘As well as having the great honour of being able to serve in an Infantry Battalion in the British Army, it’s also an honour to be able to commit myself to my husband with the full backing and support of the British Army in the unique environment that Cyprus offers. In a country that is pushing forward on matters of gender and equality, both Cyprus and the SBAA have been massively supportive. ‘We are proud to be able to serve and live in this community.
When he was a Corporal, he wrote in an army blog:
‘When I joined the Army, coming out would have meant getting kicked out, but by the time I had established myself and my Battalion found out, it no longer meant a career death sentence. As a result I was afraid to come out, got married and had children. Now my children know Daddy is gay and they all love and adore my partner.’
Sgt Smith, who revealed his sexuality at a Corporal mess function, wrote in his blog:
‘Rumours had been flying round and I thought ‘why hide it any longer’. ‘So I said to someone ‘Yeah I’m gay, is there a problem with that.’ ‘Two of the biggest Corporals in our mess started to walk over to me, and I had a ‘fight or flight’ instinct, but I noticed they were both smiling. They stuck out their hands and shook mine telling me I must have been the bravest man in the world to ‘come out’ firstly in an infantry battalion and secondly in the Corporal’s mess. He said no one in the military had seen his family unit ‘as any different from any other family on the patch’. He also added: ‘The Army has always had banter and I can give as good as I get. ‘That said I’ve never had anything malicious said to me and I have never felt any different to any other soldiers in my Battalion.’
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said:
‘The first-ever British Forces Overseas Territory same-sex marriage has taken place at Dhekelia’s Fisherman’s Cove in Cyprus.’ They said Air Vice Marshal Wigston made the decision to allow the same sex marriage, while Sgt Smith was overjoyed to be able to celebrate the ground-breaking day with his husband, surrounded by his friends, family and infantry colleagues’. Sgt Smith’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Davies said: ‘I am delighted that Sergeant Smith and Aaron were able to get married on the Dhekelia coastline – a cracking choice. ‘On behalf of the Battalion and wider ‘Tigers’ community, we wish them the very best of happiness for the future.’
His Platoon Commander, Captain Dan Cole and other friends and colleagues also congratulated the couple.