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Same-sex marriage legislation will not be imposed on us- Douglas Wheatley

- UK law makers approve same-sex marriage in first vote
UK lawmakers took a big step on Tuesday February 5, 2013 toward legalising same-sex marriage. The move has already been creating quite a stir among persons in the Virgin Islands who are now wondering if the Territory would also have to pass such legislation once it is done in the UK. However, talk show host Douglas Wheatley said he didn’t think the Overseas Territories would be forced to accept such legislation but rather they would be allowed to have to have it debated in parliament. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- UK lawmakers took a big step on Tuesday February 5, 2013 toward legalising same-sex marriage, an issue that has prompted widespread rebellion within Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party. The move has already been creating quite a stir among persons in the Virgin Islands who are now wondering if the Territory would also have to pass such legislation once it is done in the UK.

“If England was to legalise this same-sex couple marriage would we have to accept it...,” a concerned caller to the radio show Speak out BVI on February 5, 2013 asked.

“It’s a sad thing that could be brewing and a lot of pastors may have to step down and put in somebody who will accept the rules,” the caller forewarned.

However, host of the show, Douglas Wheatley said he didn’t think the Overseas Territories would be forced to accept such legislation. “I think we would have an opportunity to debate it and discuss it, even if in the end or in some point in the future we may have to accept it, but I don’t think it will be imposed on us without being given an opportunity in the House of Assembly to discuss it because you are talking about some very fundamental changes that we were not used to.”

“We have always been made to understand that marriage is between a man and a woman and if now you want to change that I think that no one would want to impose that on you without giving you the opportunity to be able to discuss it. So I don’t think it will be imposed on us through imperial legislation as such, I think we will have an opportunity to discuss it because of our cultural differences and so forth,” Mr Wheatley emphasised.

In a 400-175 vote on Tuesday, UK MPs approved the second reading of a bill legalising such marriage, indicating a significant majority of members support the measure. However, it must go through several more stages before it can become law.

The bill faces another vote in the House of Commons and a vote in the House of Lords.

As drafted, the bill would enable religious organisations to choose to conduct same-sex marriages if they wish and includes provisions intended to make sure no religious organization or person is forced to do so.

The Church of England is among the religious bodies opposed to the legislation.

The bill would also allow same-sex couples to convert a civil partnership to a marriage and enable married transsexual people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender without having to end their marriages.

A law recognising civil partnerships in England and Wales was passed in 2004.

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