Jersey’s religious civil partnership rules near implementation

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The island of Jersey’s new civil partnership law will be coming into effect in the next few weeks with provisions for religious ceremonies after receiving royal assent.

An ‘opt-in’ amendment to allow ceremonies in religious buildings was added to the draft legislation last year and it was passed by 30-6 votes in July.

The bill was signed by the Queen on 14 December 2011 and registered by the Royal Court on 6 January 2012.

As Jersey is a crown dependency, laws must go through the formality of approval by the privy council.

The Church of England, Jersey’s main denomination, has said it will not allow civil partnerships in its buildings.

Jersey has a population of about 100,000 people and hosted King Charles II and Victor Hugo during their exiles from England and France.

Estelle Burns, a family law specialist on the island Le Gallais and Luce, told the BBC the rules would help couples with adoption.

She said: “It is the first time in the Channel Islands that unions between same sex couples are to be granted any legal recognition at all.

“This will have a profound effect on daily life, not just for those couples but for the island as a whole.”

Jersey’s deputy chief minister Philip Ozouf, who is openly gay, said last year: “The island’s parliament has sent a strong message of Jersey being an open, accepting and tolerant society.”

Speaking to BBC News, he added that the legislation “is not the same as marriage but it is an absolute equivalent to marriage”.