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Rights of same-sex parents to be debated six years after key pledges

Rights of same-sex parents to be debated six years after key pledges

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Rights of same-sex parents to be debated six years after key pledges

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Work to complete legislation which protects the full parental rights of same-sex couples is progressing "as quickly as possible" – over six years since it was first raised as an issue.

Assistant Children’s Minister Louise Doublet has confirmed that the draft law will be lodged before the end of the year.

This follows a "lengthy review process", which has been ongoing from last year and is now nearly complete, to ensure that the draft law is fit for purpose.

The States Assembly will debate the proposition once it is lodged.

Under current Jersey law, only one female mother and one male father can be registered as a child's parents, and the person who gives birth to the child is automatically named as a parent on the birth certificate regardless of how the child was conceived.

However, if approved, the new legislation will:

  • allow both same-sex parents to be named on a Jersey birth certificate

  • automatically provide parental responsibility to both same-sex parents

  • provide opposite-sex civil partners with legal parent status and parental responsibility in the same way as a married couple

  • afford legal parent status and parental responsibility to parents whose child is born to a surrogate mother

  • allow for the acquisition of parental responsibility by a step-parent by agreement

"Equal legal recognition and protection"

Deputy Doublet said that work was "progressing as quickly as possible", adding: "I continue to work closely with policy officers, and with the law drafting staff to ensure that we lodge this legislation as soon as we can."


Pictured: Deputy Doublet said that "enshrining the rights of same-sex parents in law has been one of my highest priorities".

She explained: "Having this legislation in place will make Jersey the first of the Channel Islands to legally protect the rights of same-sex parents in law.

"This law also goes further than the counterpart UK law because it will retrospectively grant these rights to the majority of same-sex parents on island.

"All families in Jersey should absolutely expect to have equal legal recognition and protection: this law – if approved – will make this a reality."

Years of campaigning

Deputy Doublet has been campaigning for this legislation for several years.

In April 2016, she asked Senator Ian Gorst, then Chief Minister, about the law and was told it would be updated in 2017 “to allow same-sex parents who are named on the birth certificate to also automatically be granted parental responsibility".

At the time, he said that this change would "form part of the package of changes being brought forward in relation to same sex marriage”.

However, that deadline was not met. 


Pictured: In 2016, then-Chief Minister Ian Gorst said that the law would be updated in 2017.

In 2018, as Jersey celebrated its first ever same-sex marriage, Express asked the Superintendent Registrar’s Office when the law would be updated to allow same-sex couples to have both names included on their child’s birth certificate.

At the time, a spokesperson for the Superintendent Registrar’s Office said that the work to change this was in hand – but it might not be until 2019 or later that the law is actually changed.

In 2019, the Jersey Law Commission commissioned an independent report authored by Barrister Marisa Allman who noted that, although Jersey had a discrimination legislation, the law itself discriminated against many parents. 

Deputy Doublet said that law drafting instructions were due to be issued by the end of February 2021 but the deadline “came and went”.

Deputy Scott Wickenden eventually signed off the instruction to draw up the new legislation in April 2021 when he was Assistant Children's Minister

However, in February 2022, Deputy Doublet said that “weeks from the final sitting of the term, and the law is not ready".

“This is not good enough,” she wrote.

Lack of equality is "hurtful and discriminatory"

At the time, Deputy Doublet said the delay is due to a “resourcing issue”, the lack of “sufficient political importance” being placed on the work, and the legislation being “de-prioritised”.

“It could surely have been completed in the nearly six years since Senator Gorst made his commitment as the Chief Minister at the time,” she argued.


Pictured: "The lack of equality between same-sex and mixed-sex couples is hurtful and discriminatory," Deputy Doublet said.

“I cannot help wondering whether this legislation has not been prioritised because it affects a group of people who have historically been marginalised and therefore do not seek to campaign loudly when their rights are denied,” she added. 

“The lack of equality between same-sex and mixed-sex couples is hurtful and discriminatory and could finally be addressed if this legislation were brought forward.”

Deputy Doublet then asked the Assembly to ensure that this issue is a “priority” and guarantee the draft law was lodged for debate before the election in March 2022.

She concluded her report writing: “As we were told that this legislation was in the work programme for 2017, and again would be with the legislative drafters in February 2021, I am struggling to see why this deadline should be a challenge.”

Deputy Doublet's proposition was debated by the States Assembly on 2 March 2022, and was approved with 35 'pour' votes (for), six 'contre' votes (against), and four abstentions.

However, it has now been confirmed that the draft law will be lodged before the end of 2023 following a "lengthy review process" to ensure that the it is fit for purpose.

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