Jersey to improve legal rights for same-sex parents: ‘Recognising families as equal’

Family of two dads and one child, to illustrate a story about foster care

The Channel Island of Jersey is set to improve legal rights and protections for same-sex parents.

The updated legislation, which the island aims to pass this year, would see the Children’s Law and the Marriage and Civil Status Law updated to allow both parents to be named on birth certificates, and give legal parental status to couples whose child is born to a surrogate mother.

Deputy Louise Doublet, Jersey’s assistant children’s minister, described the move as one of her “highest priorities”, noting that the law is “progressing as quickly as possible”.

“Both before and after taking office, enshrining the rights of same-sex parents in law has been one of my highest priorities”, Doublet said.

“This work is progressing as quickly as possible: I continue to work closely with policy officers, and with the law drafting staff to ensure that we lodge this legislation as soon as we can.

“If approved by the States Assembly, it will mean that – for the first time – our Island’s legal system will protect the rights of same-sex parents, and recognise their families as equal.”

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Same-sex sexual activity was criminalised in Jersey until 1990, with the age of consent lowered from 21 to 18 in 1995. It was later equalised in 2006.

Civil partnerships were legalised in 2011, with the law taking effect in April 2012, allowing same-sex couples to register their partnerships in churches where permitted. Despite being delayed multiple times, Jersey’s equal marriage legislation came into effect on 1 July 2018, with the first couple married on 9 July.

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Last month, Vic Tanner Davy, chief executive of charity Liberate Jersey, noted that the island has been “waiting for a hate crime law for five years”.

Tanner Davy made the comments after a homophobic attack in a wine bar. Though the judge noted that the crime was motivated by a “significant amount of homophobia”, the offence was not prosecuted as a hate crime.

“If someone sprayed a Nazi swastika on the wall of a synagogue, police in the UK would log it as a hate crime. In Jersey it could only be recorded as graffiti”, Tanner Davy told the Jersey Evening Post.

“We have been waiting for a hate crime law for five years.”

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