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Draft Marriage and Civil Status Law amendments

31 October 2017

The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, has responded to the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel’s announcement that they are going to call in the draft Marriage Law for further review when it is debated in the States Assembly on 14 November.

Senator Gorst said “I said when I lodged the law in early October that it was likely to need some amendments. Most are minor corrections or clarifications of the language, and I am maintaining the proposition so that couples can book both open-air and same-sex weddings for spring 2018.

“Scrutiny is entitled to review the legislation after the principles are considered. We will then return for the next stages in the legislative process.”

There are 24 amendments in total, 17 of which relate to minor corrections, and two of which provide for transitional arrangements to support the process of moving from the old law to the amended law.

The remaining five amendments relate to

  1. clarification that the Superintendent Registrar will be an employee of the States of Jersey, as opposed to the States Employment Board
  2. inclusion of an offence omitted from the lodged amended law (the offence of providing false information when applying for a person to be authorised to solemnize marriage or when applying for location to be approved for marriage)
  3. clarification of some matters relating to the protection of religious officials, as per the States in principle decision in 2015. The proposed amendment sets out that religious officials, who cannot be compelled to give their consent or compelled to refrain from giving their consent to same-sex marriage, also cannot be compelled to refrain from withdrawing their consent, i.e. they can change their mind
  4. clarification following additional consultation with Constables that they must inform the Parish Assembly, in advance, of their intention to appoint a Parish Registrar and that Registrar must live in the Parish
  5. a further amendment to Gender Recognition Law in order to remove the ‘spousal veto’, as per the States in principle decision 2015.  As it currently stands, a person who is married and who has changed gender in the UK can only apply to the court in Jersey to have their acquired gender recognised in Jersey if they hold a UK full gender recognition certificate. Under UK law, they can only hold a full certificate if their spouse has consented (i.e. their spouse has not vetoed the issuing of a full certificate). If there is no spousal consent, they will only be issued an interim certificate. The Gender Recognition Law, is amended so that the court in Jersey can choose to accept an interim certificate as evidence of gender change, as opposed to a full certificate.

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