StatusLegal
Gender identity-
MilitaryUK responsible for defense
Discrimination protectionsYes (on the basis of sexual orientation only), since 2009
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage legal since 2017
AdoptionYes since 2017
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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha have gradually evolved over the years. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is banned in the entire territory through the Constitution Order 2009 and same-sex marriage has been legal on the islands since 2017.[1]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

Homosexuality is legal in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Same-sex marriage has been legal on Ascension Island since 1 January 2017,[2][3] on Tristan da Cunha since 4 August 2017,[4][5] and since 20 December 2017 on Saint Helena.[6]

Ascension Island

An ordinance allowing same-sex marriage was approved by the Ascension Island Council on 31 May 2016, in a 5–0 vote.[7][8] It was signed by the Governor and published in the official gazette on 20 June.[9] On 23 December 2016, the Governor issued an order to commence the law on 1 January 2017.[10][11]

31 May 2016 vote in the Ascension Island Council[8]
Votes for Votes against Absent
0

Tristan da Cunha

On 23 February 2017, after consultation with the Governor of Saint Helena, the Tristan da Cunha Island Council agreed that a law to legalise same-sex marriage would go forward formally for adoption.[12] On 4 August, the Marriages (Tristan da Cunha) Ordinance, 2017, extending the application of the Marriage (Ascension) Ordinance, 2016 to Tristan da Cunha, was signed by the Governor and published in the official gazette. It took effect upon publication.[13][14][15]

Saint Helena

On 27 April 2016, the Saint Helena Executive Council announced a public consultation on a draft of a new marriage ordinance, which, if approved, would allow same-sex couples to marry. The consultation lasted until 25 May,[16][17] and revealed a majority of respondents in favour of same-sex marriage.[18] On 15 November 2016, the Executive Council decided to allow a same-sex marriage bill to proceed to the Legislative Council, after the draft bill underwent a number of technical issues addressed by the Attorney General.[19][20][21]

On 12 December 2016, after a lengthy debate, the Legislative Council passed an amendment removing the provisions allowing same-sex marriage from the bill, which led to the entire bill being withdrawn.[22]

In January 2017, a same-sex couple applied to marry in Saint Helena. The registrar was in the process of obtaining legal advice as to how to proceed (the existing Marriage Ordinance 1851 being unclear on same-sex marriage) when two members of the public filed caveats (objections) to the marriage notice. Subsequently, the registrar referred the issue to the Chief Justice of the Saint Helena Supreme Court for a decision. A preliminary hearing took place in the court on 23 February 2017.[23] The parties in the case were given until July 2017 to submit their arguments.[24]

At the Legislative Council meeting on 22 September 2017, members agreed to notify the Council as to their opinions on the subject at a later meeting. This would allow another same-sex marriage ordinance to be debated before the end of the year, and avoid a full Supreme Court hearing on the issue, which was expected in January 2018.[25][26]

On 6 October 2017, the Legislative Council decided to conduct a series of public consultations on the bill throughout the month.[27][28] On 4 December, the Social & Community Development Committee, which conducted the consultations, recommended the Executive Council to approve the draft ordinance with one minor technical amendment, which the Executive Council did the following day.[29][30][31][32] On 19 December, after a failed attempt to remove the same-sex marriage portion of the legislation, the ordinance was approved by the Legislative Council by a 9–2 vote.[33][34][35] It was subsequently signed by the Governor of Saint Helena, becoming the Marriage Ordinance 2017, and took effect upon publication on 20 December 2017.[36]

19 December 2017 vote in the Legislative Council of Saint Helena[35]
Voted for Voted against Abstained

The first same-sex marriage in Saint Helena took place on 31 December 2018.[37][38]

Discrimination protections

The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009 bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.[1] Article 21 reads:

[T]he expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons on any ground such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, age, disability, birth or other status.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is charged with monitoring human rights laws in Saint Helena, promoting "understanding of the importance of equality" and working towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination. The Commission may also conduct inquiries and investigations on persons suspected of having committed an unlawful act. This includes whether a person has unlawfully discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or "gender reassignment". Under the Commission for Equality and Human Rights Ordinance 2015, sexual orientation is defined as "a person's sexual orientation towards— (a) persons of the same sex; (b) persons of the opposite sex; or (c) persons of either sex". Gender reassignment is defined as "an intended, current or past process (or part of such a process) for the purpose of reassigning a person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex or the state of mind whereby a person psychologically identifies with a gender inconsistent or not culturally associated with their assigned sex at birth".[39][40]

Adoption and parenting

Under the Saint Helena Welfare of Children Ordinance 2010 (which applies to Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha) and the Ascension Island Child Welfare Ordinance 2011 (which applies to Ascension Island), only married couples may adopt. Same-sex couples may marry in the territory, therefore they also have the right to adopt. Local agencies, in the case of an adoption, follow the letter of the law with the best interest and the views of the child.[41][42]

According to a 2006 UK Government report, there have been no adoptions in Saint Helena or Ascension Island for many years.[43]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal
Equal age of consent
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only
(Since 2009)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services
(Since 2009)
Anti-discrimination laws all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)
(Since 2009)
Same-sex marriage
(Since 2017)
Recognition of same-sex couples
(Since 2017)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples
(Since 2017)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples
(Since 2017)
LGBT allowed to serve openly in the military
(Since 2000, UK responsible for defence)
Right to change legal gender
Access to IVF for lesbians
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples
(Banned for heterosexuals as well)
MSMs allowed to donate blood

See also

References

  1. ^ a b The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009
  2. ^ "The St. Helena Government Gazette No 111 2016" (PDF). Ascension Island Government. 23 December 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Marriage (Ascension) (Commencement) Order, 2016" (PDF). Ascension Island Government. 1 January 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 January 2017.
  4. ^ Phillips, Lisa (4 August 2017). "Ascension Marriage Ordinance now extended to Tristan da Cunha. This means same sex marriage in both islands is enshrined in law". Twitter. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  5. ^ "The St. Helena Government Gazette No. 57 of 2017" (PDF). Government of Saint Helena. 4 August 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  6. ^ This tiny island just passed same-sex marriage
  7. ^ "COUNCIL REPORT – 31 MAY 2016" (PDF). Ascension-island.gov.ac. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b "MINUTES OF THE ASCENSION ISLAND COUNCIL (AIC)" (PDF). Ascension-island.gov.ac. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Marriage (Ascension) Ordinance, 2016" (PDF). Ascension-island.gov.ac. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  10. ^ "The St. Helena Government Gazette No 111 2016" (PDF). Ascension Island Government. 23 December 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Marriage (Ascension) (Commencement) Order, 2016" (PDF). Ascension Island Government. 1 January 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Facebook Post by Governor Lisa Phillips of Saint Helena". Facebook.com. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  13. ^ Phillips, Lisa (4 August 2017). "Ascension Marriage Ordinance now extended to Tristan da Cunha. This means same sex marriage in both islands is enshrined in law". Twitter. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  14. ^ "The St. Helena Government Gazette No. 57 of 2017" (PDF). Government of Saint Helena. 4 August 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Marriage (Tristan da Cunha) Ordinance, 2017" (PDF). Government of Saint Helena. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 December 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Marriage Bill, Sunday'S Observance (Amendment) Bill And Employment Regulations « St Helena". Sainthelena.gov.sh. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Marriage Ordinance, 2016 (first draft)" (PDF). Sainthelena.gov.sh. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Marriage Bill Questionnaire « St Helena". Sainthelena.gov.sh. 15 July 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  19. ^ "EXCO REPORT – TUESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2016 « St Helena". Sainthelena.gov.sh. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  20. ^ "Marriage Ordinance, 2016 (second draft)" (PDF). Sainthelena.gov.sh.
  21. ^ "FORMAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MEETING (09 December 2016)". Sainthelena.gov.sh. 5 December 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Updated Facebook Post by Governor Lisa Phillips of Saint Helena". Facebook.com. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  23. ^ SUPREME COURT: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE APPLICATION – PRELIMINARY HEARING
  24. ^ SUPREME COURT: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE APPLICATION – PRELIMINARY HEARING (2)
  25. ^ "Same-sex marriage discussed - Notes from Friday's Informal LegCo. (page 11)" (PDF). South Atlantic Media Services, Ltd. 28 September 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  26. ^ "Same Sex Marriage - On the Books Again. (page 8)" (PDF). St Helena Independent. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "SOCIAL & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE PUBLIC MEETINGS". Sainthelena.gov.sh. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Pride and Prejudice - Same-sex marriage debate heats up again. (pages 2 & 3)" (PDF). South Atlantic Media Services, Ltd. 12 October 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  29. ^ "Marriage Bill - Memorandum by Chairman of the Social and Community Development Committee" (PDF). Saint Helena Government. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  30. ^ "EXCO REPORT – TUESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2017". Saint Helena Government. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  31. ^ "Marriage Bill 2017 - Final for LegCo" (PDF). Saint Helena Government. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  32. ^ Pipe, Simon (7 December 2017). "Gay marriage rights close to becoming law on St Helena". St Helena Online. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  33. ^ Corner, Lewis (22 December 2017). "The tiny island of St. Helena has just legalised same-sex marriage!". Gay Times. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  34. ^ Turner, Andrew (21 December 2017). "A Big Day for LegCo, and for the Island - Four Bills Pass, Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Legal" (PDF). South Atlantic Media Services, Ltd. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  35. ^ a b Pipe, Simon (19 December 2017). "Same-sex marriage approved for St Helena: opponent calls for society to embrace the result". St Helena Online. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Marriage Ordinance, 2017" (PDF). Saint Helena Government. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  37. ^ "History made on St Helena" (PDF). The St Helena Independent. 4 January 2019. p. 4. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  38. ^ Jackman, Josh (7 January 2019). "Saint Helena has held its first ever same-sex wedding". PinkNews. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  39. ^ "Commission for Equality and Human Rights Ordinance 2015" (PDF). sainthelena.gov.sh.
  40. ^ "Welcome to the St Helena Equality and Human Rights Commission". humanrightssthelena.org.
  41. ^ WELFARE OF CHILDREN ORDINANCE
  42. ^ CHILD WELFARE ORDINANCE 2011
  43. ^ UNITED KINGDOM OVERSEAS TERRITORIES AND CROWN DEPENDENCIES, "This report sets out the progress made in the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1999, OHCHR