Same Sex Marriage in Montserrat!

British Foreign Affairs Committee calls for BOTs to get in line on gay marriage

Original By Peter Richards

Adapted by Bennette Roach

LONDON, Feb 22, CMC – The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee wants all British Overseas Territories (OT), including those in the Caribbean, to legitimise same sex marriages.

In addition, the Committee believes that the British government could do more than “simply support” same sex marriages in principle.
In its 44-page report titled “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship,” the Committee said “it is time for all OTs to legalise same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle.

Foreign Affairs Committee hearing – Lord Ahmad and Ben Merrick provide the answers and OT’s positions to the questions particularly surrounding Same Sex marriage and Beneficial Ownership

“It must be prepared to step in, as it did in 2001 when an Order in Council decriminalised homosexuality in OTs that had refused to do so. 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.”

Lord Ahmad, Minister with responsibilties to include the Caribbean and Overseas Territories, with Ben Merrick, Director of the OTs affairs

The OTs in the Caribbean include Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands.
In the report, the Committee is also calling on the British government to urgently address concerns in the OTs about the issue of citizenship by descent and anomalies in the British Nationality Act that have taken too long to resolve.

Ian Austin, supporting…

“It should also consider options for removing quotas on the number of people in the OTs that can access NHS (National Health Service) services in the UK when their 32 Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship own health systems cannot provide the care and treatment they need”

Mike Gapes, Chairman, leading the charge
Chris Bryant, supporting the charge

It said that this may be difficult from a bureaucratic point of view but it is an important test of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) ability to fight the OTs’ corner in the UK.

The Committee says belongership and its equivalents are wrong, noting that “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.”

Andrew Rosindel, leading for a modern relationship,
on fair and even playing field

It suggests that London 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”.

The OTs are a set of largely self-governing territories spanning nine time zones, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Antarctic to the Caribbean. These territories are not part of the UK and each has its own constitution, but all share a bond with the UK.

The Committee notes that for the Overseas Territories, Global Britain is a living reality and they have a valuable part to play in it.

In the report, the Committee notes that while the UK has a duty under international law to provide for the development of the OTs, it also has a responsibility to UK taxpayers to ensure that the considerable amount of money it spends on the OTs is not wasted.

“This means not only transparency and accountability in day-to-day spending, but also ensuring that capital investment is genuinely capable of delivering the Government’s long-term objective to ensure that the OTs are financially self-sufficient.

“We are seriously concerned by evidence suggesting that, despite significant capital investment in some OTs in recent years, much more remains to be done to provide infrastructure in OTs such as Montserrat, Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena, with no clear end in sight,” the Committee noted.

It said also the government “must offer clarity on its long-term vision for the funding of the OTs, including replacing any lost EU funding, and continuing and expanding Blue Belt funding after 2020”.

It said towards this end, the British government should explore options for a dedicated development and stimulus fund for the OTs, which would allow for the long-term, sustainable development of aid-dependent territories; help to stimulate the economies of those who need a stimulus but do not qualify for official development assistance; and help territories that are otherwise financially self-sufficient respond to crises such as hurricanes.

“This long-term vision must be based on a clear-eyed assessment of how the UK will balance the needs of individual OTs against value for money for UK taxpayers. There must be scope to ask hard questions about the long-term sustainability and viability of individual OTs without further significant levels of UK capital investment. If the Government does not think significant capital investment is possible, then it must be frank about what it will spend and towards what end.”

The Committee said also that the government “must clarify the UK’s future relationship with the European Union as soon as possible and analyse the impact on the OTs, what funding will be required to ensure the OTs are not losing out, and what input the OTs will have on the replacement of EU funding in the future”.

The report notes that some of the Overseas Territories feel that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should not be the lead UK department for the OTs.

It said that some of the countries believe that this arrangement reinforces the perception that the OTs are foreign and that it is not fit for purpose given the cross-government nature of the UK government’s modern relationship with the OTs.

“However, not all OTs agree and some feel that the FCO has long experience of working with the OTs, it has expertise in managing relationships with the countries that surround the OTs, and it deals on a daily basis with international treaty obligations relevant to the OTs.

“It is time for the UK Government to seriously engage with this issue and to do so in a fair and transparent manner. Before the next full meeting of the OTs Joint Ministerial Council, the Government should, therefore, commission an independent review into cross-government engagement with the OTs and the FCO’s management of its responsibilities towards them.

“Drawing on international comparisons, this review should consider alternatives to the FCO and assess the costs, benefits and risks associated with moving primary responsibility for the OTs away from the FCO,” the Committee said, adding that the findings of the review should be presented to the House and shared with the elected OT governments as soon as is feasible.

Related:

Editorial – Feb 22, 2019: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/it-is-not-just-money-power-and-sex/

Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on the OTs – Inquiry on new relationship

FAC Report pushes for homosexualisation of marriage How can Montserrat respond reasonably and responsibly

The Montserrat Reporter greatly needs your support


2 Responses to “Same Sex Marriage in Montserrat!”

  1. Thank you for writing this story. We have these comments:

    Critical points raised in the FAC Report which some in the media/press are either ignoring or not giving enough coverage too, perhaps because the “hot-button” issues in the report are overshadowing and drowning it out? It’s a pity because contained in this report is a significant issue that BOT governments should be very concerned about and not have a problem in getting resolved. It is not that they have not been made aware of it. Having their support is critical, and they should be in the driving seat leading the charge. Their mute responses are astonishing:

    It mentions the present day & historical unfair & unequal treatment of its people. The denial of British [OT] citizenship right’s to children, now adults of descent, born abroad, outside of marriage.

    Page 3 (Summary): “the UK Government needs to ensure that those who should be able to claim British Overseas Territories citizenship can do so.”

    Paragraph 4, Pages 58: “The issue of citizenship by descent stems from an anomaly in the British Nationality Act, which means that fathers with British Overseas Territories Citizenship cannot pass it on to children born outside the OTs between 1948 and 2006 if they were not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. In May 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights described this anomaly as an unacceptable form of discrimination, while Montserrat’s representative, Janice Panton, said it “has caused a lot of anguish among some parents.” Lord Ahmad was not able to indicate when the matter would be resolved. He said that “discussions are ongoing across Government on this.”

    Paragraph 4, Point 60: “The Government should urgently address concerns in the OTs about the issue of citizenship by descent and anomalies in the British Nationality Act that have taken too long to resolve.”

    The people of the OTs have a right to be fully informed and engaged on the issue. We hope this post will raise the conversation.

    BOT Nationality & Citizenship Campaign.

  2. We welcome the comments. We agree and hope that many will pay attention. The more people put their voices in, the better and more informed, the unsuspected will be and those responsible will be encouraged to take action

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British Foreign Affairs Committee calls for BOTs to get in line on gay marriage

Original By Peter Richards

Adapted by Bennette Roach

Insert Ads Here

LONDON, Feb 22, CMC – The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee wants all British Overseas Territories (OT), including those in the Caribbean, to legitimise same sex marriages.

In addition, the Committee believes that the British government could do more than “simply support” same sex marriages in principle.
In its 44-page report titled “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the Relationship,” the Committee said “it is time for all OTs to legalise same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle.

Foreign Affairs Committee hearing – Lord Ahmad and Ben Merrick provide the answers and OT’s positions to the questions particularly surrounding Same Sex marriage and Beneficial Ownership

“It must be prepared to step in, as it did in 2001 when an Order in Council decriminalised homosexuality in OTs that had refused to do so. 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.”

Lord Ahmad, Minister with responsibilties to include the Caribbean and Overseas Territories, with Ben Merrick, Director of the OTs affairs

The OTs in the Caribbean include Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands.
In the report, the Committee is also calling on the British government to urgently address concerns in the OTs about the issue of citizenship by descent and anomalies in the British Nationality Act that have taken too long to resolve.

Ian Austin, supporting…

“It should also consider options for removing quotas on the number of people in the OTs that can access NHS (National Health Service) services in the UK when their 32 Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship own health systems cannot provide the care and treatment they need”

Mike Gapes, Chairman, leading the charge
Chris Bryant, supporting the charge

It said that this may be difficult from a bureaucratic point of view but it is an important test of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) ability to fight the OTs’ corner in the UK.

The Committee says belongership and its equivalents are wrong, noting that “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.”

Andrew Rosindel, leading for a modern relationship,
on fair and even playing field

It suggests that London 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”.

The OTs are a set of largely self-governing territories spanning nine time zones, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Antarctic to the Caribbean. These territories are not part of the UK and each has its own constitution, but all share a bond with the UK.

The Committee notes that for the Overseas Territories, Global Britain is a living reality and they have a valuable part to play in it.

In the report, the Committee notes that while the UK has a duty under international law to provide for the development of the OTs, it also has a responsibility to UK taxpayers to ensure that the considerable amount of money it spends on the OTs is not wasted.

“This means not only transparency and accountability in day-to-day spending, but also ensuring that capital investment is genuinely capable of delivering the Government’s long-term objective to ensure that the OTs are financially self-sufficient.

“We are seriously concerned by evidence suggesting that, despite significant capital investment in some OTs in recent years, much more remains to be done to provide infrastructure in OTs such as Montserrat, Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena, with no clear end in sight,” the Committee noted.

It said also the government “must offer clarity on its long-term vision for the funding of the OTs, including replacing any lost EU funding, and continuing and expanding Blue Belt funding after 2020”.

It said towards this end, the British government should explore options for a dedicated development and stimulus fund for the OTs, which would allow for the long-term, sustainable development of aid-dependent territories; help to stimulate the economies of those who need a stimulus but do not qualify for official development assistance; and help territories that are otherwise financially self-sufficient respond to crises such as hurricanes.

“This long-term vision must be based on a clear-eyed assessment of how the UK will balance the needs of individual OTs against value for money for UK taxpayers. There must be scope to ask hard questions about the long-term sustainability and viability of individual OTs without further significant levels of UK capital investment. If the Government does not think significant capital investment is possible, then it must be frank about what it will spend and towards what end.”

The Committee said also that the government “must clarify the UK’s future relationship with the European Union as soon as possible and analyse the impact on the OTs, what funding will be required to ensure the OTs are not losing out, and what input the OTs will have on the replacement of EU funding in the future”.

The report notes that some of the Overseas Territories feel that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should not be the lead UK department for the OTs.

It said that some of the countries believe that this arrangement reinforces the perception that the OTs are foreign and that it is not fit for purpose given the cross-government nature of the UK government’s modern relationship with the OTs.

“However, not all OTs agree and some feel that the FCO has long experience of working with the OTs, it has expertise in managing relationships with the countries that surround the OTs, and it deals on a daily basis with international treaty obligations relevant to the OTs.

“It is time for the UK Government to seriously engage with this issue and to do so in a fair and transparent manner. Before the next full meeting of the OTs Joint Ministerial Council, the Government should, therefore, commission an independent review into cross-government engagement with the OTs and the FCO’s management of its responsibilities towards them.

“Drawing on international comparisons, this review should consider alternatives to the FCO and assess the costs, benefits and risks associated with moving primary responsibility for the OTs away from the FCO,” the Committee said, adding that the findings of the review should be presented to the House and shared with the elected OT governments as soon as is feasible.

Related:

Editorial – Feb 22, 2019: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/it-is-not-just-money-power-and-sex/

Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on the OTs – Inquiry on new relationship

FAC Report pushes for homosexualisation of marriage How can Montserrat respond reasonably and responsibly

The Montserrat Reporter greatly needs your support