23 February 2017
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE APPLICATION – PRELIMINARY HEARING
In January 2017, a same-sex couple made an application to the Registrar to be married on St Helena. The couple is a St Helenian and his partner.
Their application is being considered under the Marriage Ordinance of 1851. Although a new Marriage Bill that specifically referred to and included same-sex marriage was debated on 12 December by Legislative Council, that Bill was withdrawn and was not voted on. That means that no new law dealing with marriages has been adopted on St Helena. The existing Ordinance of 1851 refers to ‘the parties to marriage’ and it remains in force.
As required under the 1851 Marriage Ordinance, the notice by the applicants, one of whom has St Helenian status, was published outside of the Post Office building.
The existing Ordinance is not clear on same-sex marriage. The Registrar was in the process of obtaining legal advice as to how to proceed when two members of the public filed caveats (objections) to the marriage notice. When caveats are received, the Registrar may refer the issue to the Chief Justice for a decision. The Registrar has done that on this case.
A preliminary hearing will take place in the Supreme Court on Thursday, 23 February 2017, at 4.30pm.
22 February 2017