Guernsey Passes Final Same-sex Marriage Legislation; Weddings in 2017

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The States of Guernsey approved a same-sex marriage bill today by a vote of 33-5.

This vote comes almost a year after Guernsey voted in principle to modify their marriage laws to include same-sex couples.

The bill will now be sent to the Privy Council for its promulgation and weddings are expected to begin in mid-2017.

Guernsey is the second of the three British Crown Dependencies to open the door to same-sex weddings after Isle of Man began marrying couples in July. Jersey, who also voted in principle last year to expand marriage rights like Guernsey, stated that they will vote on their own final legislation in the coming months and also wish to hold weddings in 2017.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Guernsey, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Guernsey

Aruba Approves Civil Unions

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After several postponements and heated debates, Aruba’s Parliament passed a civil union bill by a vote of 11-5 tonight.

The gender-neutral bill was brought forward by a local MP who married her female partner in the Netherlands and wished to address the issue of legal protection for non-married couples and same-sex couples already married within the Dutch Kingdom.

Despite all marriages performed within other regions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands being recognized on the island, same-sex couples cannot have their marriages performed in Aruba itself. Legal deficiencies are also present for couples of the same-sex as Aruba is not obligated to grant all the same rights to those marriages as it would with heterosexual couples.

The bill sought to bring in equal marriage in all but name. Supporters of the bill hope to see Parliament pass a same-sex marriage bill in the near future.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Aruba, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Aruba

Same-sex Marriage Lawsuit Filed in El Salvador

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A lawyer in El Salvador has filed a lawsuit before El Salvador’s Supreme Court asking for the nullification of Article 11 of the Family Code which defines marriage as “a legal union between a man and a woman”.

Labeling the law as discriminatory and explaining the lack of gendered terms used in Article 34 of the Constitution’s summary of a marriage, the suit seeks to allow same-sex couples the right to wed.

Reacting to the lawsuit, several members of the Legislative Assembly dismissed the notion of allowing same-sex marriage, citing Article 11.

In recent years, several attempts by the Assembly’s conservative parties have been made to add a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, but the second-largest party in the Assembly continued to deny them the 2/3 majority of votes required to ratify the ban.

The latest attempt led by a 35-member strong right-wing party in 2015 reached the first threshold of at least 43/86 votes in favor, but the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front’s 31-seat abstention resulted in the ban’s current state of limbo as 56 votes in favor are required for the ratification of a constitutional amendment.

El Salvador is the latest Latin American country after Mexico (on a state by state basis), Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Venezuela to sue for marriage equality.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in El Salvador, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_El_Salvador

Antarctica: British Antarctic Territory Introduces Same-sex Marriage Bill

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Earlier this year, the British Antarctic Territory proposed a bill to bring their marriage legislation in line with UK marriage laws.

The Marriage Ordinance 2016 will allow the purchase of a license to conduct a marriage and licenses to allow marriages to take place.

The bill will be under consultation until September 30th.

Although the area has no natives and is inhabited mostly by scientists, the British Antarctic Territory receives scores of tourists every year.

Gibraltar’s Government Presents Same-sex Marriage Bill

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Gibraltar’s Government announced the introduction of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage today.

Originally planned to make its debut earlier this year, the Civil Marriage Amendment Act 2016 was delayed due to both the UK’s European Union referendum and the high volume of feedback during the consultation process.

With almost 3,500 answers submitted, the legislation is said to have received the largest number of public responses ever.

Despite stating that a conscience vote will be used in his center-left coalition, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is optimistic that there is enough support within his Government to approve the law.

Picardo’s coalition controls 10 of the 17 seats of Parliament while the Opposition, whose leader also expressed his confidence that his party will vote in favor, controls the remaining seats and announced a conscience vote as well.

The marriage bill will allow couples in civil partnerships to convert their union to a marriage if they desire.

Currently, gender-neutral civil partnerships with full adoption rights exist in the territory since 2014.

The civil partnership bill, which was viewed as a milestone by locals, was approved 16-0 after the Supreme Court of Gibraltar ruled that same-sex couples must not be excluded from the adoption process.

The Mariage Act will be debated for the first time no earlier than six weeks after its publication as mandated by Gibraltar’s constitution.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Gibraltar, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Gibraltar

Slovenia Approves New Same-sex Partnership Law Following Public’s Repeal of Their Marriage Bill

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Following last year’s repeal of a same-sex marriage law in the country, Slovenian lawmakers approved a civil partnership bill to give couples the same rights as marriage barring joint adoption and in-vitro fertilization. Unlike previous occasions, the Constitutional Court blocked a referendum to repeal the partnership law and it is expected to become functional in February of 2017.

The bill is the third attempt to fulfill a 2009 Constitutional Court ruling ordering Parliament to improve Slovenia’s current civil partnership law, especially in the area of pensions.

In 2011, a change to the Family Code granting the same rights as marriage and allowing same-sex couples the right to adopt their partner’s biological child was passed, but eventually repealed through the first of two public votes against a proposal on same-sex unions.

In 2014, a new Government considered another civil partnership bill before deciding to extend full equality to all couples instead and approve a same-sex marriage bill with joint adoption rights.

Once again, signatures for a repeal were collected and the Constitutional Court overrode the National Assembly’s decision to block the referendum which resulted in another defeat for same-sex couples.

After the 2015 marriage referendum, a member of Parliament introduced a bill similar to the Government’s civil partnership proposal that was passed in April. Conservative groups attempted to start a new referendum process, but were stopped by the Speaker of the National Assembly after he considered that they were abusing the country’s referendum law.

While the Court deliberated on the referendum case, the partnership bill was sent to the President to be promulgated. It was signed in May and published shortly after.

On July 22nd, the Court decided to block the referendum for the first time.

The new civil partnership law will come into effect on February 24th, 2017.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Slovenia, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Slovenia

Georgia’s President Blocks Referendum That Sought to Constitutionally Ban Same-sex Marriage

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After recently being approved by the Central Election Commission and the country’s Prime Minister, Georgia’s President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, announced on Tuesday that a referendum adding a constitutional ban on marriage between people of the same-sex was not necessary and effectively blocked the effort.

For the referendum process to proceed, 200,000 signatures must be verified by the Central Electoral Commission and receive the blessing of both the President and Prime Minister within 30 days.

President Margvelashvili stressed that the Georgian Civil Code, which contains a heterosexual definition of marriage, serves as enough clarification on local marriage laws and labeled the constitutional debacle a “non-issue”.

Although the Civil Code specifies that marriages are between men and women, Georgia’s existing constitution is gender-neutral on the subject and the referendum question brought before voters would have asked the following:

Do you agree or disagree that marriage should be defined as a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of creating a family?

Conservative groups vow to hold protests and take the referendum matter to the Georgian Constitutional Court.

The issue of same-sex marriage has come under the spotlight in Georgia following a lawsuit to legalize same-sex marriage being filed before the Constitutional Court earlier this year.

In response, forces both inside and outside of Parliament mulled an initiative to introduce a constitutional barrier on same-sex marriage, with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili issuing a campaign promise for a ban coming directly through Parliament without holding a public vote. The Prime Minister’s hope is that coalition will be awarded a super majority in October’s general election.

Constitutional changes made through the Legislature require a threshold of 3/4 of Parliament, or 113 of the 150 members, in favor.

While not necessarily in agreement with extending marriage rights, several MPs voiced their doubts about the measure citing the same defense as the President regarding the Civil Code being sufficient and members of the opposition denounced the ban as a political ploy from the ruling party. Accusations of “Russian propaganda” meant to stir anti-Western and anti-EU sentiments were also expressed by some lawmakers. The chances of the threshold being reached were questioned as well due to a previous proposal to add a ban failing in 2014.

For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Georgia, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Georgia_(country)