UK Government: No Plans For Order Or Timetable

May 13, 2019

The British Government said they “have no plans to introduce an Order-in-Council” as it relates to same sex marriage in Overseas Territories [OTs], and does not plan to “publish such a timetable” to allow UK citizens to vote in OTs.

This follows after the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee conducted an inquiry late last year into the OTs, with the Committee releasing their findings earlier this year, making a number of suggestions.

The British Government was given time to respond to the Committee’s suggestions, and the UK Government has, in effect, rejected the main two suggestions from the Committee which attracted some controversy locally, ordering all OTs to legalize same sex marriage and “working with” all OTs to allow UK citizens the right to vote.

Same Sex Marriage

The Committee had recommended that the British Government set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage, and if “that deadline is not met, the Government should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council,” in effect, suggesting the UK should order all OTs to legalize same sex marriage.

The response from the UK Government as it pertains to the suggestion to order OTs on SSM:

The UK Government is committed to equal rights, including LGBT rights. 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.

Nine Overseas Territories have legal recognition and protection for same sex relationships. At the time of writing, a tenth Territory, the Cayman Islands, was granted a stay in the Chief Justice’s ruling in favour of same sex marriage until August 2019 when the Governments appeal will be heard.

The British Overseas Territories are separate, largely self-governing jurisdictions with their own democratically-elected representatives. 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.

We are working to encourage those Territories that have not put in place arrangements to recognise and protect same sex relationships, to do so, and continue to engage with all the Overseas Territories to ensure that their legislation is compliant with their international human rights obligations. LGBT rights and broader human rights obligations are consistently raised with the leaders of Overseas Territories—both bilaterally and at the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Councils. This is also a matter that is raised by Governors’ Offices.

We have no plans to introduce an Order-in-Council on this issue.

Suggestion British Citizens Be Allowed To Vote In OTs

The Committee also recommended that the UK Government should “work with” the elected governments of the OTs to “ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory,” and the UK “should lay out a timetable for this.”

The suggestion British citizens who live in Bermuda be allowed to vote was widely panned locally, with both Premier David Burt and Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier speaking out against the suggestion, as did other Bermudians.

The response from the UK Government as it pertains to the voting suggestion:

The UK Government understands the committee’s concerns and continues to impress upon OT governments the importance of allowing people who have made their permanent home in the territories the ability to vote and engage fully in the community, but recognises the desire of island communities to maintain their cohesion, hence the need for a reasonable qualifying process. We understand the OTs’ concerns, sensitivities and historical background on this issue.

Our vision for the OTs is as vibrant and flourishing communities, with the widest possible opportunities for their people. We expect Territory Governments to meet the same high standards as the UK Government in maintaining the rule of law, respect for human rights and integrity in public life, delivering efficient public services, and building strong and successful communities.

In the spirit of a relationship based upon partnership, we will continue to support and encourage consistent and open political engagement on belongership and its territory-specific equivalents, whilst respecting the fact that immigration decisions are primarily a matter for OT governments.

The FCO does not plan at a future date to publish such a timetable.

Response From Committee 

Chair of the Committee MP Tom Tugendhat claimed that by not backing the Committee’s calls the “the Government risks weakening messages of core sympathy”

Mr Tugendhat said, “The concept of Global Britain, underpinned by shared values and commitments, lies at the heart of our foreign policy. All of the British Overseas Territories have their own constitutions but, rightly, share a bond with the UK and a pride in their deeply rooted British identities.

“Our Report made a variety of recommendations to strengthen those bonds but by not backing our calls against belongership and for same-sex marriage, the Government risks weakening messages of core sympathy for each other’s core values.”

The full response follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (8)

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  1. Seriously says:

    Another OBA attempt to raise a storm in a tea cup! No story here so let’s move on!

    • LaV says:

      Where’s the OBA mentioned in that article?

      Sounds like you’re just another racist plp troll….didn’t bother to read it, just want to bash non racist, non homophobic people, again.

    • sandgrownan says:

      WTF does this have to do with the OBA you moron?

    • question says:

      Actually it was the PLP who got all peed off about this for no reason.
      Another PLP myth.

    • andrew says:

      Seriously, seriously?

      What a perfect name for you. Dreamer.

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    Enough said. This “story” can now be put to bed.

  3. Ringmaster says:

    Funny how some, not here, call for Independence as the answer because all the PRC and long term residents will have to be given the vote beforehand under Human Rights Laws. Guess what will happen?

  4. Real Deal says:

    watch that dont take your eye off them