The Unitarian congregation at Oxford's Harris-Manchester College is calling for gay couples to be allowed to marry in church.

More than 300 gay couples have 'married' in the county since Civil Partnerships became legal on December 5, 2005.

But, although they are now entitled to many of the same rights as straight couples, they are still not allowed to tie the knot in licensed places of worship.

Retired Oxford solicitor and member of the Chapel Society of Manchester College, Gavin Lloyd, believed this was an affront to their human rights.

Next month, he will forward a motion at the annual meeting of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, in Hertfordshire, calling for the Government to end the discrimination.

Mr Lloyd said: "The object of this motion is to be fair to all couples.

"And in the interests of fairness, there should be a legal entitlement for civil partnerships to be ratified on the same terms as marriages - in churches, mosques, synagogues and temples."

The Unitarian movement accepts homosexuality. It has gay and lesbian ministers and provides church blessings for same-sex couples.

Royal Mail workers Brenda Chandler and Lynne Moody, of Bicester, were able to have a blessing at St. Columba's United Reformed Church in 2004, but the Civil Partnership Act prevented them from making their union official "in the eyes of God".

Ms Chandler, 57, said: "We would have loved to have formed our civil partnership in church, before God, as we are both great believers.

"And we have had many friends marry since, who would have liked the same."

Ms Chandler and Ms Moody formed their civil partnership at The Garth in Bicester in December 2005.

Ms Chandler said: "It is time that people accepted gay people as normal human beings who deserve the same human rights as others. The law should be changed."

Gay couples who sign the civil register are obligated to provide reasonable maintenance for their civil partner and any children of the family.

They are also assessed in the same way as mixed sex spouses for child support, and tax purposes.

They are entitled to life assurance, employment and pension benefits and protection from domestic violence.

And they can be the official next of kin for their partners.

From December 5, 2005 to December 31, 2006, 222 same sex couples formed civil partnerships in Oxfordshire - 124 of them male couples and 98 female.

From January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007, 91 couples did the same - 42 male and 49 female.