The United Kingdom government has said it has no intentions of forcing its Overseas Territories (OT’s) to legalize same-sex marriages.
However, they are urging its OT’s to comply with international human rights obligations as it relates to the matter.
The British government’s response follows recent recommendations from its House of Commons and it’s Foreign Affairs Committee pushing for the BVI and other OT’s to decriminalize same-sex marriages in their respective jurisdictions.
Those aforesaid bodies had also recommended that the UK set a date by which it expects all its OT’s to legalize same-sex marriages. They recommended that the UK government intervene via an Order in Council if the OTs failed to comply.
Effectively, an Order in Council is a forceful command made in the name of Her Majesty the Queen. Failure to comply with that command could result in the UK exerting diplomatic pressure on OTs.
“The UK government is committed to equal rights, including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights,” the British government said in a May 7 report titled ‘Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship: Government response to the Committee’s Fifteenth Report’.
It continued: “We believe that the strongest, safest and most prosperous societies are those in which all citizens can live freely without fear of discrimination, and where all citizens, including LGBT people, can play a full and active part in society.”
OTs are self-governing nations
The report further indicated that ‘LGBT rights and broader human rights obligations’ are matters which are continuously raised with the leaders of these self-governing territories such as the BVI.
“We are working to encourage those territories that have not put in place arrangements to recognize and protect same-sex relationships, to do so, and continue to engage with all the OTs to ensure that their legislation is compliant with their international human rights obligations.”
However, the UK made it explicitly clear that they “have no plans to introduce an Order-in-Council on this issue”.
“Our relationship with the Overseas Territories is based on partnership and therefore as policy on marriage law is an area of devolved responsibility it should be for the territories to decide and legislate on. As has been demonstrated by recent LGBT cases, the territories’ justice mechanisms and processes should be allowed the space to address these matters.”
The UK government, however, noted that 10 of its Overseas Territories have ‘legal recognition and protection for same-sex relationships’.
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