Same-sex couples in Jersey will be able to get married on Sunday after three years worth of delays to the islands same-sex marriage bill.
Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, approved same-sex marriage in 2015 but is yet to hold its first unions as the legislation has been bogged down in amendments.
Following several years of debate, Jersey’s Privy Council finally signed off on the finished law on May 23, paving the way for the first same-sex marriages.
The changes made to the marriage legislation, including marriage for same-sex couples, come into effect on July 1.
Chief Minister John Le Fondré welcomed the new legislation, stating on Monday: “This has been granted Royal Assent and is implementing a decision of the previous Assembly.
“I hope everyone will join me in wishing everyone affected by this law all the best.”
The changes to the marriage law affect 31 island laws in total, including allowing all couples to choose where on the island they have their wedding, which could include their homes and gardens.
The British Crown Dependency makes its own law through an independently elected parliament, but delegates foreign affairs and security to the UK.
One of the changes to the law covers the status of transgender people in marriage, stating that trans people are able to get married as their true gender without the need for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
In the UK, transgender people who currently wish to get married in their acquired gender must apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
A Gender Recognition Certificate requires a two-year waiting period and then involves a process that has been criticised as both invasive and expensive.
Jersey’s new marriage law also requires recognised religious organisations to opt-in to perform marriages and ceremonies for LGBT+ couples.
According to Liberate, one of Jersey’s largest LGBT+ advocacy groups, very few religious organisations have currently opted in to perform same-sex weddings.
Both Jersey and Guernsey (the Channel Islands) – which have a population of just 165,000 – are crown dependencies, and retain autonomy from the United Kingdom.
The first same-sex marriages in Guernsey took place in June 2017.
Same-sex marriage is currently the law in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and has been approved in the Isle of Man.
However, progress on same-sex marriage continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland.
Polling shows that an overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland support equal marriage, but progress on the issue has been stalled for many years due to political instability and opposition from the hardline Democratic Unionist Party.