The Jersey government has approved a measure to introduce gay marriage by 2017.
Although Jersey and the other Channel Islands are crown dependencies, they maintain political autonomy from the rest of the United Kingdom. As a result, when same sex marriage was legalised in England, Wales and Scotland, it remained illegal in Jersey and Guernsey.
The chief ministers of the two largest Channel Islands have pushed to update their marriage laws so same sex couples can be included. On Tuesday, the States of Jersey – the island’s parliamentary body – approved the chief minister’s proposal by a significant margin. Thirty-seven members voted in favour of introducing gay marriage while only four voted against it and there was one abstention.
LGBT rights group Liberate said they were “delighted … that the States Assembly in Jersey have voted … in favour of introducing same sex marriage”.
Gay marriage is not the only change to Jersey family law. The new measure will also introduce updated parental responsibility rules and some legal protections for cohabiting couples. Additionally, there will be changes made to the island’s divorce laws.
Prior to the vote, chief minister Ian Gorst said that the government could not “consider marriage without considering divorce” and urged the parliament to support “a legal requirement for those seeking a divorce to access mediation”.
The draft legislation – which will include the details of the laws mentioned in the proposal – is due at the States by January 2017. This means that gay marriages in Jersey could potentially begin later that year.
Photo of Saint Helier, capital of Jersey, by Fenners1984 via Flickr