Junior minister for tourism Archibald Christian wants to make it clear to visitors that gay marriages are not accepted in the British Virgin Islands.
Christian made his position against same-sex marriage known in the House of Assembly yesterday during a debate for the Marriage (Amendment) Act.
Under the Act, certain persons such as minors and family members are prohibited from getting married in the BVI. But Christian yesterday lobbied for gays to be added to that prohibited list.
“It’s not that I have anything against persons who choose to have their relationship based on same sex. I am a human being so I have to support persons who want to have those relationships. But I have a problem when you call those relationships a marriage,” said the junior minister, who added that he was not afraid to tackle the ‘delicate’ issue though it will spark public debate.
“Are we waiting for someone to tell us when it is convenient for us to do it, or are we going to be bold and courageous enough to say we will never do it?” Christian said.
He continued: “I don’t want the hands from somewhere else to dictate to us what we need to do because the rest of the world is swinging in a particular direction. I think for a long time when you look back on the history of the Virgin Islands you can see that we have been able to dance to the beat of our own drum. We must continue that way.”
Gay marriage not up for debate
However, Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie said the question of same-sex marriage is not up for debate because same-sex marriage is already forbidden in the BVI.
“It’s not for any of us to decide whether we are for or against marriage of the same sex … The substantial law already states clearly that it’s not a recognised marriage in the British Virgin Islands. If it is challenged, that’s a different story,” said Fahie who also threw his support behind the Marriage (Amendment) Act.
The Act is being amended, effectively, to accommodate one-day visitors who wish to marry during their short stay the BVI. However, the amended law still caters to all other eligible persons locally and abroad.
With the new amendment, persons will be issued a marriage license on the same day of getting married.
Under the current law, newly-weds must wait at least one business day before they get their license.
The amendment was championed by Premier and Minister of Tourism Dr D Orlando Smith.
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