Commons Committee urges Government to lift ban on same-sex marriage overseas

By agency reporter
February 22, 2019

Amnesty International has welcomed a report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee calling for all British Overseas Territories (OTs) to legalise same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to legislate if the Territories fail to act.

Amnesty has called on the Government to apply the same principle to the UK itself by legislating without further delay for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, something which it is refusing to do.

In the report, Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship, the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said that the lack of marriage rights for same-sex couples in some Territories was “a notable point of divergence and friction” with the UK.

Among the Report’s recommendations, the Committee calls on the UK Government to: “Set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. The UK Government must be prepared to intervene through legislation or an Order in Council if the date is not met.”

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, welcomed the call and said the same principle should be applied to Northern Ireland: “The Foreign Affairs Committee has rightly noted that the lack of same-sex marriage is problematic to the point of being a source of friction between the UK and British Overseas Territories. This should be urgently addressed, either by the Territories themselves or the UK Government.

“But the UK Government and Parliament are in a weak position as long as a ban on same-sex marriage continues within the UK – namely, in Northern Ireland. The Government should first end discrimination against LGBT+ people within the UK and will then be in a stronger position of moral authority to deliver marriage equality overseas. We call on the Government to extend legislation for same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland without further delay.”

“It is time for all OTs to legalise same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle. It must be prepared to step in, as it did in 2001 when an Order in Council decriminalised homosexuality in OTs that had refused to do so. The Government should set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. If that deadline is not met, the Government should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council.”

* Read Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship here

* Amnesty International


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