The government of the Falkland Islands has passed legislation legalising gay marriage.
The Legislative Assembly for this small British overseas territory approved the bill by seven votes in favour to just one against. Not only does the new law grant gay and lesbian couples full marriage rights, it also introduces civil partnerships. Unlike in England and Wales, such partnerships on the Falklands will be available to anyone, including straight couples.
This bill followed a public consultation taken on the islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, which have a population of around 3,000 people. The consultation revealed that an overwhelming majority – 90 per cent – of respondents were in favour of allowing same sex marriage. Eighty-seven per cent also said that churches should be allowed to perform gay weddings if they chose to do so.
The idea of civil partnerships for all couples was even more popular among those who responded to the consultation, with 94 per cent supporting its introduction.
Speaking to Pink News, a spokesperson for the Falklands said the new legislation “sends a clear and powerful message that all people and all relationships are equal” and its introduction “reflects the Falkland Islands’ tradition of being an open, tolerant and respectful community”.
Civil partnerships will be placed “on an equal footing with marriage” under the new law so couples “who wish to solidify their relationship with legal underpinning, but who do not wish to go down the traditional route of marriage” will not miss out on any rights, the spokesperson explained. Parental rights will be equal regardless of what kind of legal recognition a couple chooses. Sexual orientation will likewise be a non-factor, as “parents to a child may be two mothers or two fathers”.
The islands are planning to hold an event celebrating this step forward for gay rights later in the month. It will be the southernmost LGBT Pride event in the world.