Sunday , 8 December 2019

Guernsey votes to introduce same-sex marriage

Flag of Guernsey
Flag of Guernsey

Marriage equality is set to be introduced in Guernsey after a vote by the island’s government today.

The motion to introduce same-sex marriage was approved by an overwhelming majority of the Policy Council, with 37 for and 7 against.

Two alternative options for introducing same-sex civil partnerships or bringing in a single legal form for all – Union Civile – were rejected.

The government now will now have to bring forward the legislation for a vote, but no clear timetable has yet been set.

A Policy Council spokesman told the BBC it depends on the “priority given to the legislation” and time needed to draft it.

He said at the earliest this “would not be before 2017″.

Martin Gavet Co-Founder of Liberate
Martin Gavet Co-Founder of Liberate

The neighbouring island of Jersey has approved the drafting of legislation to permit same-sex marriages from 2017.

Speaking with KaleidoScot, Martin Gavet, Co-Founder of Liberate, Guernsey’s LGBTI advocacy group, said: “Liberate has always been about building bridges since it was founded in February 2014. Since that time we have built strong relationships with both politicians and faith ministers across the Channel Islands.

“Personally I am delighted by the news that Guernsey will also introduce same-sex marriage. As someone who has experienced hate and prejudice first hand for being a gay man my prime motivator has always been for the islands in which we live to be accepting of people no matter who they are or who they love.

“We have come a long way in two years and it will mean that LGBT people will no longer feel like second class citizens. I hope that the laws in both Jersey and Guernsey where we have campaigned follow swiftly. Christmas has come early. Love has won the day.”

However, Deputy Hunter Adam, who was one of those who proposed Union Civile, said: “Introduction of same-sex marriage at this time could be considered by some as a step too far.”

Rainbow flag flying today outside where Liberate was founded
Rainbow flag flying today outside where Liberate was founded

He said the issue had raised “strong emotions” and had the potential to cause “division within the community”.

Deputy David De Lisle, who suggested civil partnerships, said like England and Wales, the island should take it “one step at a time” to avoid creating a “divide in the community”.

The motions were heavily defeated 4-40 and 7-37 respectively.

Guernsey’s Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq said the Policy Council had considered all three options before deciding to propose same-sex marriage.

He said: “[It is] more likely to attain international recognition as it brings Guernsey into line with other neighbouring jurisdictions.”

Le Tocq said it was a matter of “equality” and providing couples with the “same legal benefits and protections”.

He described the current marriage law, which dates to 1919, as “highly and unnecessarily confusing, ambiguous in places and certainly ripe for reform irrespective of other issues”.

Same-sex marriages are now legal in more than 20 countries.

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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