Jersey may become first Crown dependency to introduce civil partnerships

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The government of Jersey is to consider the implications of granting same-sex couples the right to enter into civil partnerships.

The Council of Ministers will look at the financial costs of the proposal in the next few months, the BBC reports.

The Attorney General is to consider the legal implications.

In 2007 the government the States of Jersey set up an advisory panel to receive comments on four government proposals and began the Civil Partnerships: Green Paper public consultation.

The four options put forward for further discussion were for same-sex couples to marry, same-sex civil partnerships as in the UK, civil partnership for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, or no change to the current law.

The advisory panel has agreed that it would not wish to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples but has agreed that further consideration should be given to the remaining options.

After the reports from the Treasury and the Attorney General, Jersey’s civil service will formulate a proposal to go before the Council of Ministers.

It is likely they will pass the issue on to the parliament, or States of Jersey, for a final decision.

By the end of 2009, same-sex couples in Jersey should have legal recognition.

A spokeswoman for the Jersey government told that all four options are still open, and there will be discussion about the UK approach and the status of unmarried straight couples.

There were 36 responses to the consultation from individuals, groups, representative bodies.

Civil partnerships as introduced in the UK got the most support; same-sex marriage the least.

Click here to read the document.

The advisory panel concluded:

“Having considered aspects associated with current Human Rights legislation and the known difficulties which had been encountered by the United Kingdom arising from the introduction of civil partnerships in that jurisdiction … it would wish to pursue the creation of the right to form a civil partnership between both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

“It was recognised that there was a need to assess, as accurately as possible, the potential financial and resources cost of implementing such legislation, and the Chief Minister’s Department was asked to undertake such further research as might be necessary, in conjunction with those departments of the States likely to be affected.”

Jersey, the Isle of Man and Guernsey are Crown dependencies.

Laws passed at Westminster do not normally apply to the dependencies, who have their own parliaments and taxation, customs and immigration systems.

They are not part of the UK or the EU, though they are counted as UK territory for the purposes of nationality, defence and foreign affairs.

Each of the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man have the option of introducing their own civil partnership legislation, though UK CPs are recognised on the Isle of Man.