Michael Cashman introduces bill to legalise same-sex marriage in British Overseas Territories

A bill has been introduced in the House of Lords to legalise same-sex marriages in British Overseas Territories where they’re currently banned.

Gay rights pioneer Lord Michael Cashman put the private members’ bill (a bill introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers) forward on Wednesday (6 July).

The proposed bill extends to six Overseas Territories; Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks & Caicos Islands. It will seek to introduce equal civil marriage for same-sex and different-sex couples.

“Currently, same-sex couples can marry in the UK but are prohibited from marrying in six British Overseas Territories. This is wrong, and the UK parliament can and should act to end this obvious inequity.

“I believe this bill has wide support among all those who favour equality over discrimination and are committed to upholding fundamental human rights,” Cashman said.

The bill will empower “the governor of each Territory to make changes to the law in the Territory to recognise the lawfulness of same sex marriage”.

The introduction of the bill comes after the UK Privy Council denied marriage equality to both the Cayman Islands and Bermuda in March 2022.

Colours Caribbean, an LGBTQ+ organisation based in the Caymann Islands, said the decision “revealed a discriminatory system of constitutional segregation”, as per BVI News.

Dr Leonardo Raznovich, a barrister supporting Lord Cashman’s bill, told BVI News: “The UK parliament through this bill aims to correct the serious injustices that the Privy Council’s decisions have manifested.”

Following the introduction of the bill, Stonewell’s Twitter account posted a celebratory message: “Great news! Our cofounder @mcashmanCBE has introduced a Bill in the House of Lords to make same-sex marriage lawful in the six British Overseas Territories where it is currently unlawful.”

The tweet was accompanied with a note from the CEO of Stonewall, Nancy Kelley, which read: “The freedom to be who we are, to love who we love, and to marry if we want to, is a fundamental human right.

“Marriage equality is something we are rightly proud of here in the UK, but we cannot say that we truly have achieved equality when LGBTQ+ citizens in the British Overseas Territories are left out in the cold. This bill is an opportunity to right that wrong, and we hope all parliamentarians will support it.”

Colours Caribbean said: “We look forward to the passing of the bill. Marriage equality has officially come to the forefront of the agenda and soon all British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean will enjoy the same rights with the same name, ending the anomaly of depriving us of the right to equality enjoyed by all British citizens in the entirety of the UK, the three Crown Dependencies and the rest of the British Overseas Territories.”

“It will put an end to the unjustified discrimination and segregation on grounds of sexual orientation that British citizens face in relation to access to equal marriage in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Monserrat and the Turks and Caicos,” said Raznovich.