Guernsey’s Chief Minister has agreed to meet with an LGBT group pressing the region to reform laws and introduce equal marriage in line with England and Wales.

Newly-formed group Liberate launched a petition last week, highlighting a range of differences between British law and that of the Channel Islands.

Jersey and Guernsey –  which have a combined population of just 165,000 –  maintain autonomy from the UK as crown dependencies, and are not subject to British law.

In Guernsey civil partnerships were never introduced, same-sex marriage is not recognised and same-sex adoption is illegal, while the age of consent was only equalised in 2010.

Jonathan Le Tocq, Guernsey’s Chief Minister, has agreed to meet with the group next week to discuss reforms.

He wrote: “The Policy Council, through its Social Policy Group, is currently looking at a local solution for legally recognising the relationship between two people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation; this has come to be known as Union Civile.

“We welcome the work of LIBERATE and the insight you can give to us and look forward to involving you in consultation.”

He added: “I’m the leader of a church as well, so I’m fully aware of how some people feel.

“Marriage is something mainly defined by religious communities and some of them will be happy to marry gay couples.

“Those that don’t and want to maintain their traditional view will be able to do that as well.”

Martin Gavet, the chairperson of Liberate, said: “We see this as a giant leap forward for the Bailiwick of Guernsey’s LGBTQ community, in opening dialogue and engaging with government on what needs to change.”

“Since the petition has been live, Liberate has also received news of a policy change allowing transgender people in Guernsey to be granted full access to services to allow their transition to their gender identity, without having to resort to funding it privately.”

“Allowing discriminatory policies, laws and practices to exist, effectively condones discriminatory behaviour and will make it harder to change attitudes. We very much look forward to a positive meeting with the Chief Minister.”