15 July 2011

Channel TV - Civil Partnerships

Above: (from left to right) Deputies Angela Jeune (St Brelade), Anne Dupré and Ian Gorst (St Clement) were the only 3 not to support the Civil Partnerships Law. The three Deputies sit together and it is believed they may have been victims of 'groupthink'

It has been pointed out to me that channel online  made a fundamental error in their reporting of the Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel amendment to the law.

Their report states: 'The new regulations mean that gay couples can now get married in a church or other religious building if that establishment is happy to carry out the service.'

'The fact that gay couples can now get married in places of religious worship is a change to the original draft of the law.'

In fact the amendment did nothing of the sort. The amendment was simply a technical one meaning that if in the future the States wanted to add an 'opt-in' clause for those churches who want to perform these ceremonies (as is being proposed currently in the UK) any future changes to the article of the law could be done by regulation, rather than by a change to the law itself (which would be take much longer and need Privy Council approval). 

The surprising thing is that even though this amendment was very modest, and did not change the law, which currently stops even those churches willing to perform CP services from doing so, 6 members still voted against it and 3 of those were unable to support the law in its amended form.


  1. There would have been some quaint logic in voting against because you wanted the change implemented in the law now, rather than just enable it to be brought in at some unspecified, possibly never to arrive future.

    Somehow I don't reckon Gorst, Jeune and Dupré are arch liberals?

  2. Well spotted.

    I fully understand your frustration. Simple changes, when it comes to law drafting, become complex and many States Members do not have the education to grasp what is happening. (This is precisely why legislatures historically tend to be full lawyers; though a House composed of legal pedants would be dull.) It would also appear the Media are not putting the effort into understanding the issues either. How then are the public to be accurately informed and educated?

    The Civil Partnerships Law was an important item of social legislation that deserved to have been reported accurately. Errors in understanding complex financial legislation may be forgiven as we are not all specialists, however this smacks of pandering to the religious right and populist prejudice.

    The political class is deeply homophobic and that is manifest in the vote by the three Deputies you mention. Jersey society may be conservative, but it is tolerant on the whole towards Gays. However, there is a strong religious right that is becoming increasingly intolerant of Liberal opinion. We need to be vigilant.

  3. 'The political class is deeply homophobic and that is manifest in the vote by the three Deputies you mention.'

    But will those deeply homophobic members of the political class suddenly drop their prejudices when the time comes to vote for our next Chief Minister?

  4. I think, sadly, no they won't. I say 'sadly' - not because I want Senator Ozouf as our next Chief Minister, but because I believe whoever is voted for should be chosen on the basis of policy, maybe personality (in the sense that they have to be someone who can be worked with), but NOT on the grounds of sexuality.

    I know that homophobia exists. One Constable told me he 'didn't fancy Ozouf's chances cos he batted for the other side.'

    The real tragedy is that as things stand many of us could not support either Senator Ozouf or Le Marquand. I hope a credible alternative comes forward, maybe in the form of Constable Crowcroft

  5. Channel TV were most obliging and have now corrected the offending lines (and replaced them with my text). It turns out the BBC made the same mistake too - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-14126084 - saying 'Following an amendment, politicians agreed to allow individual religious organisations to decide whether to allow ceremonies in their churches.'

    You also have to love Senator Ozouf Orwellian Doublespeak - " the civil partnership arrangement is not the same as marriage but it is an absolute equivalent to marriage." - it is the absolute equivalent. Can you have an absolute equivalent?