Channel Islands: Equal marriage campaigners meet with Chief Minister

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Equal marriage campaigners in the Channel Islands have met with the islands’ Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq.

Tuesday’s meeting was described as friendly, frank and refreshing by Martin Gavet, chairman of the LGBT rights campaign group Liberate.

A proposed Union Civile law, which would remove religious references from laws related to marriage, was discussed.

“It’s a really progressive law, probably one of the most forward-thinking pieces of legislation, in terms of marital legislation, in the world,” said Mr Gavet to the BBC.

“It is an official state piece of paper to say that you are married and if you have religious beliefs then you are free to celebrate that in a church or synagogue or wherever you choose to worship.”

Liberate said it had secured a commitment to introduce the legislation in the current parliamentary term.

Before Wednesday’s meeting, Deputy Le Tocq, who is also a church leader, said he did not believe gender in marriage was a matter for government.

“The State doesn’t need to define marriage in the way religious groups do,” he said.

“That’s why the new law we’re proposing would create something different for the purposes in which the States would be interested.

“I’m a strong believer in the state and the church being separated.”

Jersey and Guernsey – which have a combined population of 165,000 – maintain autonomy from the UK as crown dependencies, and are not subject to British law.

They have lagged behind on LGBT issues, with Guernsey only equalising the age of consent in 2010and Jersey introducing civil partnerships in 2012.

In Jersey there are no laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, while in Guernsey civil partnerships were never introduced and same-sex adoption is illegal.

Same-sex marriage is not recognised anywhere in the Channel Islands, and there are less provisions to help trans people with gender confirmation.

A recent poll in Jersey suggested 81% of islanders support same-sex marriage.

A petition calling for equal rights has attracted more than 1,000 signatures.