Civil partnershipGIBRALTAR’S first gay couple granted a civil partnership have been told to get ‘divorced’ before they can officially marry.

They have been told they are not able to convert their current status into a full legal partnership, despite a new gay marriage bill being passed in December.

It comes after Nadine and Alicia Muscat, 47, fought a 20-year battle to get their relationship recognised by Gibraltar law.

“We fought for a civil marriage, but they gave us a civil partnership,” explains Nadine, 48.

“It was the only thing they offered us at the time.

“Now the new law has come in I am happy, but we are still no clearer about what is going to happen. It has been six months and we still don’t have full legal status.”

The couple claim they have been calling the Gibraltar registry office ‘every week’ since December, but due to ‘a lot of paperwork’ they have still not got an answer.

“We asked that if we did not want to wait for the decision to be made, could we just get married instead? But they told us we would have to get a divorce first.”

The registry office confirmed to the Olive Press that there was currently no legislation for converting a civil partnership to a marriage as yet.

However, Equality Rights Group chairman Felix Alvarez was told that the legislation was in existence, but it was a matter of getting the paperwork sorted out.

He told the Olive Press that the changing of the law affects 40 other types of legislation, so it’s a complicated process.

“I think it’s understandable that there are complications with the changing of legislation, but six months is an unreasonable amount of time to wait to convert a certificate,” he said.

“Counter staff just don’t seem to know what’s happening with the legislation.”

The couple’s fight for a civil partnership came after the housing department refused to let Nadine register Alicia as living with her.

They then took the department to court and, after a four-year fight, they lost their case, but won when they brought it to the UK court of appeal.

In 2014, they were finally granted the partnership: “It was like doors were starting to open and at least we had some rights, but what we really wanted was marriage – we wanted equality,” said Nadine.

“It’s about my rights as a human being to be able to marry the person I want, whether it’s a man or woman.”