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World’s smallest country legalises gay marriage

The South Pacific island of Pitcairn has legalised gay marriage.

One of the smallest countries in the world in terms of population, the British Overseas Territory has a population of just 48 and covers little more than 18 square miles.

The new law actually came into effect on 15 May but, according to deputy governor of the island Kevin Lynch, it had not been publicised because the Pitcairn website experienced technical difficulties. However, notices about the change were posted at the town hall and the general store – the normal procedure whenever a new law is enacted.

The family of resident Meralda Warren has lived there for seven generations. Speaking to the British media, she said that “it was not Pitcairn Islanders that were pushing for [the new law]”.

She added:

“But it’s like anything else in the world. It’s happening everywhere else, so why not?”

There have been no same sex weddings since the new law came into effect and there are no plans for any in the future. There are no gay couples on the island. Ms Warren told the media she only knew of one islander who was gay.

The move was welcomed by a gay rights campaign organisation across the Pacific Ocean in Australia. Rodney Croome is the national director of Australian Marriage Equality. He said that if the new law has no residency requirement, he could imagine gay couples “might find it a romantic destination, including Australians who can’t marry in their own country”.

Pitcairn was originally settled in the 18th Century by mutineers from the famous ship HMS Bounty, and their descendants still live there today. The legendary mutiny on the Bounty occurred while the British ship was transporting breadfruit plants from Tahiti. On 28 April 1789, senior officer Fletcher Christian seized command from their captain, Lieutenant William Bligh. Following the mutiny, the captain and 18 members of the crew who had remained loyal to him were set adrift in a small boat. They sailed roughly 4,000 miles before arriving at a Dutch settlement in Indonesia. Meanwhile, Christian and the mutineers sailed away to Pitcairn with a group of Tahitians and burned the Bounty.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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