Jersey civil unions could come into force next year

 

Civil partnerships could be granted as early as next year in Jersey after ministers announced plans for further debate this summer on the introduction of law to same-sex unions, reports the UK’s Pink Paper.

While gay couples in mainland United Kingdom have been allowed to enter into the unions since 2005, those wishing to marry in Jersey have been made to wait, despite the law being agreed to in principle in October 2009.

According to Channel Online TV, a draft law will be debated in July and if passed, could come into force next year, the source said.

But Treasury and Resources Minister Philip Ozouf outlined the difficulties in passing the law. He said: “It’s not simply a case of drafting a piece of legislation about civil partnerships.

“There’s a whole load of consequential legislation on inheritance, on tax in my own area of Treasury and Resources, Social Security, all sorts of other Department legislation that has to reflect the legal status of a civil partnership to put civil partnerships on the same basis as marriage in the eyes of the State.”

After plans for the introduction of civil unions sixteen months ago, Home Affairs Minister Senator Ian Le Marquand said he was concerned civil partnerships may weaken the institution of marriage.

He told politicians: “I’m afraid that although what is proposed may be called a civil partnership it is to all intents and purposes a marriage. Should homosexual relationships be treated exactly the same as marriage? In my view no – there are differences,” he said.

At the time, Le Marquand said he supported the introduction of unions that legally recognised same-sex couples but believed that they were “below the level of marriage”.

Le Marquand also said the legislation would not be a quick improvement of rights for gay couples.  “This is actually going to be a very slow way of going about doing this because of the size of legislation involved.

“This is an enormous drafting task and is going to take years to complete,” he added.

If passed, the new legislation will give gay couples who have their relationships formally recognised the same inheritance, pension, tax, immigration and property rights as heterosexual people who are married.

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