Jersey: Same-sex marriage bill won’t include ‘spousal veto’ for trans people

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Jersey’s planned equal marriage bill will exclude a controversial ‘spousal veto’ clause, which can stop trans people gaining legal gender recognition.

Trans campaigners in Jersey have hailed a report by the Chief Minister, Ian Gorst, which called for a planned departure in the law from that of England and Wales.

In England and Wales, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act controversially requires a married trans person to either divorce or get their spouse’s permission before obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Campaigners say that this could leave trans people without basic legal rights, if their estranged spouse is unwilling to divorce or grant permission.

The much-criticized clause was successfully removed from Scotland’s Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, which campaigners said resulted in a “fairer” law.

According to Trans Jersey, the First Minister has ruled out including a veto – which means trans people in Jersey won’t need their spouse’s permission to have their gender legally recognised.

Vic Tanner Davy of Trans Jersey said: “We are impressed by the work done by the Chief Minister and his department in addressing all aspects of the issue thoroughly and with great understanding.

“The spousal veto is a nasty piece of legislation that demands a trans person in a marriage asks permission of their spouse before applying for their gender recognition certificate, which makes them for all legal purposes their affirmed gender.

“his inclusion in the England and Wales law spoke to the concerns of some MPs that the non-trans party to an opposite-sex marriage would be forced into a same-sex marriage because of their spouse’s legal transition.

“In reality, a person’s transition does not happen overnight. It takes at least two years of living as your affirmed gender before you can apply for a gender recognition certificate in the UK.

“During those two years, a trans person will have undergone gender therapy, most likely started hormone therapy and may have had gender reassignment surgery.

“If their spouse is still with them at the point that the trans partner applies for their gender recognition certificate, they will already be aware that they are living in a marriage that, to the outsider, has changed.

“Transitioning is difficult and stressful at times as every trans person endeavours to maintain partnerships and family relationships intact throughout the process.

“The last thing they need is added pressure from the state intervening in what is a private matter between the two people who are party to the union.

“We are, therefore, delighted that the Chief Minister has taken this into consideration and will be proposing the Scottish model for dealing with the issue.

“This will enable marriages to change seamlessly between same-sex and opposite-sex with no requirement for divorce and re-marriage or for spousal permission when one party to a marriage transitions.”

As a Crown Dependency, the Bailiwick of Jersey – which has a population of under 100,000 – maintains autonomy from the UK and is responsible for setting its own laws.