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

Bermudan Government Planning Civil Unions

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Tensions have been high on the island since both those in favor and against same-sex marriage have had a chance to speak out in recent days, and this week, Bermuda’s Government announced that it will attempt to bring civil union legislation to the island while reinforcing the current matrimonial law that only allows heterosexual marriage.

The island’s Attorney General stated the Government’s intention of recognizing gay couples, and while he rejected the notion of putting the marriage issue to a referendum, he stressed that there is no plan to bring gay marriage to Bermuda.

Instead, the plan is to introduce unions only for gay couples that would allow them to work in Bermuda without a permit and would recognize overseas same-sex marriages as civil unions. The second half of the plan is the most controversial and would amend the Matrimonial Causes Act, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, to have supremacy over the Human Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The move to make the Matrimonial Act trump the other would make it harder for the Legislature to pass a gay marriage law in the future.

The Human Rights Act is frequently cited in pro-LGBT rulings such as a 2015 adoption verdict in favor of gay couples and the ruling by the Chief Justice that set the precedent for couples to be able to reside and work in Bermuda as spouses of Bermudians regardless of orientation. The latter case prompted the Government to try passing a bill recognizing these rights through the House of Assembly before month’s end as the Chief Justice set a February 29th deadline for the Government to act.

If the civil union law fails this month, the Government will let the Chief Justice decide the next step.

For more information the LGBT rights situation in Bermuda, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Bermuda

Gibraltar’s Opposition Voices Support For Gay Marriage Bill

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The leader of Gibraltar’s Opposition voiced his support for a gay marriage proposal and has stated his optimism that his fellow members would back the bill.

Daniel Feetham of the center-right Gibraltar Social Democrats made this statement during a New Year’s television broadcast. Feetham says he believes that extending marriage to same-sex couples strengthens the institution, and although every GSD member would be allowed a free vote, he claims all of them would be in favor.

The issue has become a hot topic since the leading center-left Gibraltar Social Labour Party-Liberal Party Alliance presented a command paper on changing the local marriage laws in December of 2015.

The public will be able to send in their thoughts until January 29 when the consultation phase closes. Several debates between religious leaders and LGBT activists have arisen with some clergy suggesting that a referendum on same-sex marriage be held, but Gibraltar’s Chief Minister reportedly shot down the notion during a Parliamentary Questions and Answers.

The results of the public consultation will be released in June of this year according to the GSLP-Liberal Alliance.

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