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Guernsey Takes a Big Step Towards Gay Marriage
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of September 27, 2016) On September 21, 2016, the members of parliament of the British channel island Guernsey voted for a bill to legalize same-sex marriage (33 vs 5 votes). The future law has to be ratified by the Privy Council and should enter into effect mid-2017. The neighboring island Jersey will introduce gay marriage in 2017, too.
The new act of 2016 will grant same-sex spouses the same rights as heterosexual married couples, and divorce proceedings work the same way.
However, there are still some differences between straight and gay marriage, and the bill makes now mention of child adoption by same-sex married couples. Obviously, this is about civil weddings – however, churches may also choose to hold wedding celebrations. The bill will not force any church or religious group to perform same-sex weddings but allows individual priests to do so (opt-in according to article 9.1).
Once ratified, the act provides for recognition of same-sex marriages concluded abroad. Registered partnerships concluded in Guernsey or Jersey in the past will continue to exist and not automatically be transformed into marriages.
More than 7 out of 10 inhabitants in favor of same-sex marriage
The vote of September 21, 2016 followed a decision by the parliament from December 10, 2015 regarding legalization of same-sex marriage, which reflected the strong agreement among the population: According to a poll in June 2015, 71.5% of the population were in favor of gay marriage. The local LGBT association Liberate reports that the percentage of supporters was estimated at about 80% to 90% by a parliamentary hearing in 2015.
Guernsey is one of the last UK islands to legalize gay marriage. England, Wales and Scotland were the first in 2014, Ireland followed in November 2015, and the Isle of Man in July 2016. Only Northern Ireland refuses such steps – however, gay-friendly pressure is on the rise there, too (see our article).
Coincidentally, Guernsey hosted Channel Islands (CI) Pride for the first time this year. The very cute and funny logo of this event shows the two animals that inhabitants of Jersey (“toads”) and Guernsey (“donkeys”) have historically used to refer to the other island’s inhabitants in a more or less funny or insulting way.
Here is the official video clip of CI Pride – without sound for some reason but with English subtitles at least.
Update of January 5, 2017 (below).
First gay marriages in Guernsey possible as early as in summer of 2017?
The new bill has already received royal support via the UK Privy Council and will now have to be ratified by the the States of Guernsey, the parliament of the island. According to Shane Langlois, vice-president of the commission for labor and social affairs in the Guernsey parliament, it could come into effect during the summer of 2017.
However, Shane Langlois advises all gay and lesbian marriage candidates to wait until the effective date of the bill before making any concrete plans. (Source: BBC, January 2, 2017)
The islands of Alderney and Sark not included (yet)
According to a reader of PinkNews.com, this new act will only apply to three of the islands of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. As a matter of fact, the islands of Alderney and Sark have their own legislation in terms of mariage, divorce and adoption. Following a law of June 17, 2015, Alderney already accepts partnerships and marriages legally concluded abroad. It is therefore likely that this island will soon align its legislation with the one in Guernsey.