For centuries, people have flocked to Scotland, where the law allows people to get married at the age of 16 without the permission of their parents. And now Grenta Green, the first town north of the English border, has appeared in front of up to 1.5 billion viewers via the televised opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, where actor John Barrowman gave a kiss on the lips to a kilt-clad male dancer, before ‘marrying’ him beneath a replica of Gretna Green’s Famous Blacksmiths Shop’s iconic horseshoe-decorated wedding arch.

Scotland made same-sex marriage legal in February this year, with the first gay marriages expected in autumn.

Gretna hosts some 5,000 marriages a year, accounting for one in six Scottish weddings. ‘I had no idea Gretna Green was to be featured; it came as a complete surprise,’ said Alasdair Houston, owner of the Famous Blacksmiths Shop.

‘Gay men and women are just as welcome as straight men and women to get married here at the Famous Blacksmiths Shop. Our view has always been that people, whatever their sexual orientation, lifestyles or backgrounds, just want to live their lives and celebrate their love for each other and we’re always happy to be a part of that.

‘Since the first weddings here in 1754, the laws relating to marriage have changed countless times but we have always just carried on marrying people and making them happy. That, surely, is what Gretna Green is all about.’

Within seconds of the Barrowman kiss, social media platforms were flooded with largely favourable comments and also suggestions that it was politically motivated because of the criminalisation of homosexuality in so many Commonwealth countries – as we reported yesterday, homosexuality is illegal in 42 out of 54 countries of the Commonwealth. Prime Minister David Cameron is coming under increasing pressure to speak out against discrimination of gay men and women in these states.

Scott Cuthbertson’s tweet was typical of the reactions on Twitter: ‘Delighted to see a gay kiss on Gretna Green at @Glasgow2014 opening ceremony!’

Glasgow School of Art student Erin Colquhoun is now decorating a replica Famous Blacksmith Shop wedding anvil to celebrate same-sex marriage in Scotland after winning a national competition. It will be unveiled later this year and gay couples will be able to opt to marry over this special colourful anvil at the Famous Blacksmiths Shop.