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Sark becomes the last place in the British Isles to legalise same-sex marriage

Lily Wakefield December 19, 2019
Sark

Horse and carriage cross La Coupee narrow track between Little Sark and Sark, Island of Sark, Channel Islands, Great Britain. (Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty)

Sark has become the final place in the British Isles to legalise same-sex marriage, and the first weddings are set to take place next year.

The channel island, which has a population of around 500, became the last remaining place in the British Isles without same-sex marriage after Northern Ireland legalised marriage equality this year, to come into force in January. 

Officially a fief within the bailiwick of Guernsey, Sark maintains its own independent legal system, overseen by its own ancient parliament, the Chief Pleas. It also completely bans cars and street lights.

In October, Sark voted to draft legislation that would allow same-sex marriage, and the new law was officially approved by the Chief Pleas on Tuesday (December 17).

It must now go to the British Privy Council and Guernsey’s Royal Court, but it is expected to come into force by February 2020.

When the island voted to draft the law in October, conseiller Peter La Trobe-Bateman said in a report: “As society and attitudes have advanced greatly, the Committee would like Sark to be able to offer same-sex marriage on the island.

“The legal recognition of same-sex partnership is an important issue and one which Sark must address if it is to be regarded as a jurisdiction that takes equality seriously.”

According to the BBC, Sam Le Trobe Bateman, the chairman of Sark’s Policy and Finance Committee, added that legalising equal marriage will be great for tourism on the island.

He said: “It’s the perfect wedding venue. To open it up to same-sex couples is fantastic for them and fantastic for us. The more people we bring here, the better.”

In 2017, Guernsey became the first channel island to legalise same-sex marriage and was followed by Jersey and Alderney in 2018.

Although same-sex marriage will now be legal everywhere in the British Isles, it is still illegal in the British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean.

More: British Isles, Channel Islands, marriage equality, same sex marriage, Sark

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