FAC raises controversial Constitutional Isssues

It is not just money, power and sex
March 1, 2019

In their February 21, 2019 report, the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has called for legalising same-sex marriage in Montserrat and four other Caribbean Overseas Territories. It has also called for changing restrictions on voting and eligibility to run for a seat in our legislative assembly, creating “a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory.” Such changes would require amending the Montserrat 2010 Constitution Order, and would be controversial.
On the recent trend to put into law that men can marry other men and women other women, the FAC pointed to “a notable point of divergence and friction is same-sex marriage, which has been legalised in all but the five OTs in the Caribbean (Anguilla, BVI, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos), though this bar is currently being challenged in the courts in the Cayman Islands.”
It also noted that Premier Romeo’s reply to this question was “it was important for the UK to recognise that “as separate territories, with ethnic diversity from your territory and cultural differences, we ought to be allowed to make decisions on matters such as same-sex marriages.”
In the conclusion, the FAC states: “The Government should set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. If that deadline is not met, the Government should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council.”
For Montserrat, this would lead to a Constitutional issue. Our 2010 Constitution Order was negotiated with the FCO over an eight-year period, then was passed as a resolution by the Reuben T. Meade Administration.
It was then tabled in the UK Parliament and was finally issued as an Order in Council. In Section 2 it protects the basic rights “without distinction of any kind, such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour” etc. In Section 10 it then states “Notwithstanding anything in section 16 [on discrimination], every man and woman of marriageable age (as determined by or under any law) has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and to found a family.”
This provision reflects the immemorial, community consensus of Montserratians and many others across the Caribbean and beyond that while all people are to be respected and protected under law, the natural marital relationship between husband (male) and wife (female) is foundational to the sustainability of family and society and so must also be respected and protected under law.
At that time, such provisions were clearly acceptable to the UK Parliament and to the Privy Council. (NB: Premier Romeo’s reference to “ethnic diversity . . . and cultural differences” comes from Principles IV and V of the UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of 1960, See: (UN: https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/1541(XV) which sets out specific frameworks for implementing the legally binding force of UN Charter, Article 73.)
The FAC report also states that:
“Belongership and its equivalents are wrong. While we recognise that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally-resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family. The UK Government should initiate a consultation with the elected governments of the OTs and work with them to agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory. In its response to this report the FCO should lay out a timetable for this consultation process and set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements of belongership, or its territory-specific equivalents.”
This too, is a Constitutional issue for Montserrat. For, Section 51 restricts those qualified to be legislators, to persons “born of a father or mother who at the time of the birth was a Montserratian.”
Such Constitutional issues may well be particularly controversial in an election year, such as this.
There are those already concerned persons who are also calling on all to be prepared for the fight, inviting Monterratians to take note. The following comes from an annonymous writer as we have been unable to ascertain its origin.
“Montserratians the world over, take stock of the British Parliamentarians attitude to you as a people, strong representation is the key, I urge you to support those who are prepared to represent your interest and rebuke those who are prepared to spread propaganda in an attempt to hoodwink the electorate for power and personal gain.”

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It is not just money, power and sex
March 1, 2019

In their February 21, 2019 report, the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has called for legalising same-sex marriage in Montserrat and four other Caribbean Overseas Territories. It has also called for changing restrictions on voting and eligibility to run for a seat in our legislative assembly, creating “a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory.” Such changes would require amending the Montserrat 2010 Constitution Order, and would be controversial.
On the recent trend to put into law that men can marry other men and women other women, the FAC pointed to “a notable point of divergence and friction is same-sex marriage, which has been legalised in all but the five OTs in the Caribbean (Anguilla, BVI, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos), though this bar is currently being challenged in the courts in the Cayman Islands.”
It also noted that Premier Romeo’s reply to this question was “it was important for the UK to recognise that “as separate territories, with ethnic diversity from your territory and cultural differences, we ought to be allowed to make decisions on matters such as same-sex marriages.”
In the conclusion, the FAC states: “The Government should set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. If that deadline is not met, the Government should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council.”
For Montserrat, this would lead to a Constitutional issue. Our 2010 Constitution Order was negotiated with the FCO over an eight-year period, then was passed as a resolution by the Reuben T. Meade Administration.
It was then tabled in the UK Parliament and was finally issued as an Order in Council. In Section 2 it protects the basic rights “without distinction of any kind, such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour” etc. In Section 10 it then states “Notwithstanding anything in section 16 [on discrimination], every man and woman of marriageable age (as determined by or under any law) has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex and to found a family.”
This provision reflects the immemorial, community consensus of Montserratians and many others across the Caribbean and beyond that while all people are to be respected and protected under law, the natural marital relationship between husband (male) and wife (female) is foundational to the sustainability of family and society and so must also be respected and protected under law.
At that time, such provisions were clearly acceptable to the UK Parliament and to the Privy Council. (NB: Premier Romeo’s reference to “ethnic diversity . . . and cultural differences” comes from Principles IV and V of the UN General Assembly Resolution 1541 of 1960, See: (UN: https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/1541(XV) which sets out specific frameworks for implementing the legally binding force of UN Charter, Article 73.)
The FAC report also states that:
“Belongership and its equivalents are wrong. While we recognise that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally-resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family. The UK Government should initiate a consultation with the elected governments of the OTs and work with them to agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory. In its response to this report the FCO should lay out a timetable for this consultation process and set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements of belongership, or its territory-specific equivalents.”
This too, is a Constitutional issue for Montserrat. For, Section 51 restricts those qualified to be legislators, to persons “born of a father or mother who at the time of the birth was a Montserratian.”
Such Constitutional issues may well be particularly controversial in an election year, such as this.
There are those already concerned persons who are also calling on all to be prepared for the fight, inviting Monterratians to take note. The following comes from an annonymous writer as we have been unable to ascertain its origin.
“Montserratians the world over, take stock of the British Parliamentarians attitude to you as a people, strong representation is the key, I urge you to support those who are prepared to represent your interest and rebuke those who are prepared to spread propaganda in an attempt to hoodwink the electorate for power and personal gain.”

Support The Montserrat Reporter