Channel Island equality charity Liberate and transgender support group Trans* Jersey have welcomed the proposal for same-sex marriage in Jersey lodged in the States Assembly today by the Chief Minister.
Chairman of Liberate in Jersey, Christian May, said: “We are heartened by the wording that the Chief Minister has chosen to use in his proposal that says, unequivocally, that ‘it would be unreasonable, and inappropriate, to continue to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to get married’. This is, of course, a sentiment that we share.”
Liberate also supports the Chief Minister’s decision to not propose legislation that compels religious groups to marry same-sex couples. Mr May said: “It is important that all the faith groups in our island reach their own conclusions on equal marriage and, if they decide they would like to celebrate it, to be able to do so when they are ready. The protections being proposed are proportionate and an appropriate response to the problem of allowing people the freedom to practice their religious beliefs within their sacred spaces without interference from the state, whilst not permitting discrimination against same-sex couples.”
Liberate supports the proposal’s recommendation of an overhaul of the divorce laws that place the emphasis on mediation and reconciliation before a divorce can be granted and a move towards no-fault divorces. Mr May said: “It is a sad fact that divorces happen to opposite-sex and same-sex couples in equal measure. Any legislation that takes some of the pain out of the process for the couple, and any children involved, is to be welcomed.”
The ability for a transgender partner in a marriage to transition and have their gender recognised in law without the so-called spousal veto that exists in England and Wales is good news for Trans* Jersey founder Vic Tanner Davy: “We welcome the re-examination being proposed for the process of gender recognition in the island and the commitment by the Chief Minister to follow the Scottish model for same-sex marriage that allows an opposite-sex marriage to seamlessly convert to a same-sex marriage, and vice versa, where someone transitions. There are a number of problems that exist currently for transgender people in Jersey looking to recognise their gender legally and we look forward to seeing more detail on this aspect of the proposal.”
The timetable for the implementation of the legal changes means that equal marriage could be a reality in Jersey by the end of 2017. Liberate is pleased that the process is still on-track despite a delay at the start of this year. Mr May said: “The proposal shows just how far-reaching and extensive the legislative changes need to be. It is right that Jersey undertakes the process thoroughly and examines all aspects of marriage at the same time as introducing same-sex marriage. Liberate understands that this will take time but that the end result will be worth the wait.”
The proposal can be downloaded here: http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2015/P.77-2015.pdf