February 22, 2019 / 9:42 PM / 6 months ago

Force British territories to legalize gay marriage, report says

HAMILTON, BERMUDA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - British overseas territories should be forced to legalize same-sex marriage, according to a report released by the British parliament this week.

Some of the territories, which have their own constitutions and parliaments, have other ideas    

The Foreign Affairs Committee document, “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship”, strikes a rare interventionist tone for the 14 self-governing jurisdictions.

Five of the 14 Overseas Territories (OTs), including the Caribbean islands of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage is legal in the UK, itself, with the exception of Northern Ireland.

“It is time for all the OTs to legalize same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle,” the report said.

In 2001, the British government ordered the decriminalization of homosexuality in the territories.   

But Britain has done little to enforce LGBT+ rights since.

Last year, the British governor of Bermuda - the most populous territory - allowed legislation denying LGBT+ people the right to marry in favor of domestic partnerships.

“I think it (the report) demonstrates a lack of regard for the nature of the constitutional relationship and for the significant autonomy that has been given to territories like the Cayman Islands,” said Premier Alden McLaughlin in an interview with Cayman 27 television on Thursday.

Bermuda’s premier, David Burt, also said he would “strenuously resist” this proposal in a statement issued on Thursday.

Neither gave a specific comment on the same-sex marriage recommendation.

The relationship between London and the mostly island jurisdictions that are home to 250,000 people has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, due to the territories’ reputations as tax havens.

There is no obligation for the UK government to enforce the committee’s recommendations.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which manages the territories, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Emma Farge @REUTERSFARGE; Editing by Jason Fields. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

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