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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 13:42 UK
Legal rights for same sex couples
Civil Partnerships
Civil Partnerships could be introducing Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

When you get married in Jersey you gain extra rights including shared rights to a property, or extra legal responsibility for children.

But gay couples don't have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Now the Council of Ministers is putting forward an 'in principle' proposal to introducing civil partnerships.

"From a personal point of view I feel very strongly that civil partnerships should be introduced," said proposition spokesman Senator Philip Ozouf.

If passed by the States of Jersey this would mean a gay couple could get the same rights as a heterosexual married couple in the island.

Civil Partnerships are legally recognised unions between two people of the same sex - and have been in place in the UK for years.

"The Council effectively has had three options to consider - do nothing, allow same sex couples to marry in the conventional sense, or create a special form of relationship for same sex couples which is the in effect the same as marriage but is called a civil partnership," said Senator Ozouf.

The Jersey Community Relations Trust, a group campaigning for equal rights for gay couples in Jersey has welcomed the proposed changes to the law.

"The UK example is a perfect opportunity to follow, we don't want any more rights introduced than already exists, we just want equal rights to those already accepted in marriage.

"There is the case that people think it is just about holding hands and being accepted in relationships but there are inheritance issues, qualification issues for partners and non-partners, there are loads more rights involved than those on face value," said Steven Edwards from the Trust.

Mr Edwards also said that not recognising same sex partnerships legally has an effect on businesses in the island.

Civil Partnerships
The Council of Ministers are proposing Civil Partnerships Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

"You've got employers who are trying to recruit people into the finance sector and they've got people in partnerships in the UK.

"They offer them the job in Jersey and they suddenly find they haven't got qualifications for people to work in another job - are they going to come and take the job in Jersey?" said Mr Edwards.

Members of the States of Jersey will have to debate and vote on whether civil partnerships should be introduced in the island and Senator Ozouf is expecting a busy debate as there are strongly held views on both sides.

"There are some people that think that same sex couples should have full marriage rights, to have a relationship which is exactly the same as marriage in the heterosexual sense.

"There are other people on the other side of the debate that don't accept at all the existence of same sex relationships for whatever religious and other reasons," said Senator Ozouf.

Senator Ozouf said some members have suggested the island should go a step further and call the relationship marriage and not civil partnership.

"I've already seen an e-mail from one States Member which says, and this is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, is whether or not we should go the further step and allow marriage for same sex couples."

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