Gay couples in Jersey will be able to tie the knot within three years, ministers have pledged.
A report by the Chief Minister has set a deadline of the end of 2017 for the introduction of same-sex marriage, as well as a review of the current grounds for divorce – including the possible introduction of “no fault” divorces - and more legal rights for co-habiting couples.
The announcement comes after States debates before the election failed to resolve differences over the issue, with Members backing a delaying motion rather than taking a final decision.
The report itself has recognised that there are differences of opinion, and strongly held views on both sides of the issue, within the wider community but has concluded that “it would nevertheless be unreasonable to continue to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to get married”.
It also signalled that there would be “safeguards” put in place so that religious organisations and officials would be able to “opt-out” of performing same-sex marriages if they did not want to do them.
Chief Minister Ian Gorst said that the aim of the new law would be to uphold marriage as an institution for everyone.
He said: “It is clear from the responses to the consultation that marriage matters to Islanders and although many have strongly-held contrasting views on whether marriage should evolve to include same-sex couples, they nevertheless agree on its importance.
“Our aim is to uphold marriage for all couples, all families and for the wider community.
“That will include bringing forward same-sex marriage legislation but also looking at what the States of Jersey should do to support marriage and families if we are to help ensure that children grow in stable, happy homes.”
Responses to a consultation on same-sex marriage were mixed - a Jerseyman who plans to marry his partner in Brisbane next year said that “it pains me to know” that their marriage would not be recognised by the Island of his birth, but others cited the Bible or “political correctness” to argue against a change to the law.
The first same-sex marriages took place in the UK in March this year after a change to the legislation pushed through by the Coalition government.
In Jersey, civil partnerships for same-sex couple were introduced in 2012 and up to the end of last year, 44 couples had entered into them, and none had been dissolved.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.