(Blogmensgo, gay blog of February 7, 2018) On February 1st, 2018, the „States of Jersey“ (parliament and government) voted for a bill to legalize same-sex marriage with a majority of votes (42 against 1 and one abstention). After the other Channel Islands, Guernsey (September 2016) and Alderney (September 2017), Jersey is now the last of the big Channel Islands to legalize gay marriage. The first gay and lesbian weddings may well be celebrated during this year.
Four years of preparation for the new law
The draft legislation goes back to as early as 2014. After voting for the bill in 2015, the project was idling for two years until it gained new momentum in 2017.
There are still some smaller amendments to be made to the text before the bill can be passed on to the cabinet of the Queen of England for ratification and promulgation. As these are pure formalities, the first same-sex weddings may still be celebrated in the course of 2018.
A strange “tolerance clause“
Before the final vote on February 1st, two issues remained to be discussed:
On January, 31, 2018, the government of Jersey gave up the plans to open civil partnerships to heterosexual couples. This means that civil partnerships, introduced in 2012, will be an exclusive right for same-sex couples.
Additionally, the delegates of the Jersey parliament, with 40 to 5 votes, rejected the “tolerance clause”, which had been controversially discussed before. This clause would have allowed companies and service providers of all kinds, such as wedding photographers, musicians, bands, bakeries and so on, to refuse their services to same-sex couples. There had been even been plans to extend this clause to religious institutions.
Supposedly, this was not to allow homophobic actions but rather to protects religious convictions. However, the final text, as voted for, still allows churches and their officials to refuse religious wedding ceremonies to same-sex couples.
Among all Channel Islands, Jersey is the biggest and most populous one (118 km2 and 100,000 inhabitants), which means the highest number of LGBT people are likely to live there.
Frank-S / MensGo