Profusion of gay weddings soon in the Caribbean?

Marriage equality soon in the Caribbean? (Photo by kasio69 via Wikipedia)
Marriage equality soon in the Caribbean? (Photo by kasio69 via Wikipedia)

If the UK Parliament votes in favour of marriage equality today, LGBT people may soon be able to celebrate their weddings on the British Caribbean Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, The British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos.

Another lucrative business for these already financially well-off and insanely beautiful Caribbean territories. (Butch Stewart’s Sandals Resorts has properties in Turks and Caicos. Wonder if gay weddings will soon be a part of the “Sandals Experience?”)

The French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe (including the dependencies of St. Martin, Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, and St. Barts) as well as France’s South American territory of French Guiana, may soon be offering gay marriages too. In France, the National Assembly is in the midst of a week of debate about same-sex marriage and adoption. Early in the discussions, the Deputies voted 249-97 to remove references to gender from the marriage law.

In the Caribbean territories that form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, only tiny Saba and Bonaire offer same-sex marriages. Curacao, Aruba and Sint Marteen are separate countries within the Kingdom, so have more autonomy with regard to laws, while Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are parts of the Netherlands where marriage has been recognized since 2001.

Curacao, Aruba and St Maarten still strongly resist opening up marriage to same-sex couples, but the constitution of the Kingdom and an historic Supreme Court ruling 5 years ago forces their civil registries to register marriages contracted in the Netherlands, including, Saba, Bonaire and in theory in St. Eustatius. However, few want to marry in St. Eustaius, which is possibly the most homophobic of the Dutch Caribbean.

The first Aruban and Curacao couples have already married in Saba, and the second Aruban couple are soon going to be the first to marry in Bonaire.

Today’s UK vote could mean that the French Caribbean islands as well as the Dutch island of Saba, which already allows same-sex marriages, may soon face some stiff competition for hosting ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS gay weddings!

[Update: The House of Commons voted 400-175 in favor of same-sex marriage. The bill now goes to the House of Lords.]

(An earlier version of this post included a reference to Cuba that has been removed for evaluation.)

Written by Maurice Tomlinson

Maurice Tomlinson of Jamaica and Canada has been involved in HIV and AIDS and LGBTI rights activism in the Caribbean for over 15 years. An attorney-at-law, he leads and supports legal challenges seeking the repeal of the region's homophobic laws. Contact him by email via 76crimes (at) gmail.com.

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