Media links: Trans* Jersey welcomes equal marriage consultation

Pink News: Friday 29 August 2014

BBC Radio Jersey: Sunday 31 August 2014 (timecode: 02.09)

Channel Island equality charity Liberate and affiliate group Trans*Jersey welcome the States of Jersey’s consultation on equal marriage and partnership.

Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, launched a public consultation on equal marriage and partnership on 20 August 2014 that will run until 22 October 2014.

Following their meeting on 29 July 2014 with Senator Gorst, Liberate and Trans* Jersey are pleased with the results of the first stakeholder meetings and the options for equal marriage in Jersey arising from those initial discussions being put forward by the Chief Minister.

Jersey Co-ordinator for Liberate Vic Tanner Davy said:

“The options being offered to the public are ones that Liberate and Trans* Jersey supports and we have already responded positively to the suggestion that Jersey introduce same-sex civil marriage and same-sex religious marriage. Although truly equal marriage would be represented by the Union Civile, we have moved away from that position because of the disturbance that its introduction would cause to the long-standing relationship of the Church of England to the Crown and the State, something that would necessitate a much bigger and longer constitutional debate.

“We are also supportive of the proposal to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. In the interests of equality, this is the only fair thing to do. It is something that the UK has not done and for Jersey to be considering this option shows how committed the Chief Minister and his department are to ensuring we get this right as an island.”

The consultation document also addresses the question of whether adultery as grounds for divorce in a marriage should be removed or redefined to ensure that same-sex couples are treated equally. The current legal position is that an opposite-sex marriage can be ended by adultery but a same-sex civil partnership cannot.

“On the question of adultery, we would like to see adultery as grounds for divorce in a marriage removed because that would equalise the grounds on which a marriage or civil partnership can be dissolved. In so doing, it would no longer relegate the sexual congress of same-sex couples to something less than that of opposite-sex couples.

“Adultery is just as emotionally damaging to same-sex relationships as it is to opposite-sex relationships but it can be covered in law by citing the grounds for divorce/dissolution as “unreasonable behaviour”. We feel that all marriages and civil partnerships would be protected from sexual infidelity via this route and, therefore, removing adultery is appropriate in the interests of equality.”

Liberate congratulates the Chief Minister and his department on the sensitivity with which they have worded the consultation and the research they have undertaken, in a very short period of time, in order to produce a comprehensive document that covers all the main permutations for equal marriage and partnerships. The consultation paper is balanced and, as far as possible, gives equal weight to the considerations of both the LGBTQ community and those religious groups who feel they cannot solemnise same-sex marriages in their place of worship.

Martin Gavet, Chairman of Liberate, said:

“Liberate is an inclusive group and we welcome members regardless of race, gender, disability, religious belief, gender identity or sexual orientation. It is, therefore, very important to us that religious groups have a means to opt-out of performing same-sex marriages and their freedom of religious belief is maintained. The options put forward by the consultation paper make it clear that places of worship will be able to opt-out in line with the position of their organisation. Having said that, we also hope that in time religious organisations, which currently oppose same-sex unions, will grow in their understanding of LGBTQ issues and the spiritual needs of some of the LGBTQ community.”

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