The word 'marriage' is to be taken off register office signs in case it offends gay couples turning up for civil partnership ceremonies.

Councils in the West Midlands are being recommended to remove references to marriage suites at register offices after the introduction of the new partnerships last month.

Government body LACORS (the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) has issued a Civil Partnership checklist.

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The organisation provides advice for local councils nationwide on a wide variety of subjects. However, the General Register Office of England and Wales say they have issued no guidelines over the signs and it is entirely a matter for local authorities.

Included in the checklists, which were sent out on December 5, are points of advice such as:

* Is your signage correct? Have you considered changing the name of your marriage room to something similar for Civil Partnership?

* You may find that ordering stationary packs for information for couples could be re-named "your Ceremony" instead of "Your Wedding".

* The sign for your Register Office now needs to say Registrars of Birth, Deaths, Marriage and Civil Partnership.

Dudley Council, Wolverhampton Council and Staffordshire Councils confirmed that their registry offices were dropping the word marriage from their signs.

At Wolverhampton Register Office the names of their two marriage rooms have now been changed to ceremony rooms one and two.

At Stourbridge Register Office, in Dudley borough, it's Crown Marriage Suite has simply been re-titled the Crown Suite.

Walsall Register Office has removed its sign saying 'marriage ceremony in progress' to read 'ceremony in progress'.

And Staffordshire Register Office are due to give names to their seven marriage rooms later this year but have decided not to use the 'marriage' word.

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe said: "This is an extreme form of political correctness gone mad.

"Thankfully marriage is still a recognised activity and should be advertised as such."

A Dudley Council spokesman said: "Signs to the Crown Marriage Suite are being replaced to reflect the increasing range of services offered at the venue.

"In addition to marriages it also hosts civil partnerships, baby naming, citizenship and commitment ceremonies."

Holly Holdsworth, Superintendent Registrar at Wolverhampton Register Office, said: "Wolverhampton Register office has taken a decision to change the name of the marriage rooms to ceremony rooms.

"That's because we deal with citizenship ceremonies as well as civil partnerships and at some point we will diversify further and do baby naming ceremonies and it's to reflect that diversity."

Linda Ellwood, Superintendent Registrar at Stafford Register Office, said: "Our marriage rooms across the county are not named but are due to be named later this year.

"But none of them will have the word marriage in them because we now need to reflect the number of different ceremonies that take place in our rooms."

Gavin Drake, spokesman for the Diocese of Lichfield, which covers the Church of England in Staffordshire, Shropshire, Walsall and Wolverhampton welcomed the dropping of the word marriage.

He said: "It is appropriate to drop the word marriage because civil partnerships are not marriage."