Liberate

How do you want to bow out?

Maybe you want everyone in black weeping tastefully beside the grave as your shiny casket is lowered to its final resting place? Maybe you want a massive party for your loved ones, where the food and drink flow? Maybe you want an eco burial and a tree planted as your lasting memorial? Not to be too morbid about it, but nothing is surer, one day it will be our turn to bow out.

When we are young and fit death is not something we spend a great deal of time thinking about. As we age we may think about it more but, if we are in good health, probably not that much more. However, if you are part of the LGBT+ community, possibly you should think about it more than others.

Liberate did some training for Pitcher & Le Quesne, funeral directors, this week so we had the opportunity to ask them about some of the things they have experienced when it comes to the death of a member of the LGBT+ community and what we could do that would help them to ensure they give us the send off we would like.

If you have not left a will, letter of wishes, funeral guidelines and/or pre-arranged your funeral then the funeral directors will need to ask your immediate family what the arrangements are to be – and that can be problematic if your family either don’t know that you are LGBT+ or know but don’t accept your identity.

If you are in a civil partnership or, by next year, a marriage, you should discuss your wishes with your spouse as they will be the ones that the funeral directors will take instructions from. Even then, it is still not a bad idea to set down in writing what you would like to happen as, in the turmoil of emotions that accompanies the death of a husband or wife, details can be forgotten.

If you are in a meaningful partnership that is not legally joined, your next-of-kin is not your partner but your immediate family. If you have nothing in writing regarding your last wishes and they don’t accept your partner as your spouse-in-all-but-name, your family could stop them from having any say in what happens to your property (including the home you shared if it is in your partner’s name) and how you depart this world. Similarly, for those people who are not out to their family about being LGBT+, it can be hard for a partner left behind to explain their role in your life and to communicate your last wishes to your family.

Many LGBT+ people feel ill-served by formal religion, even scarred by their experience of it. To them, in life, it would be inthinkable to have a funeral in a place of worship, but this is what can happen when a family member places their own wishes above those of the person who has died.

For trans people, having their death registered as their recognised gender is likely to be important but, if they are not around to confirm their recognised gender, will their next of kin do it for them? It is not uncommon for trans people’s gender identity/new name to be denied by their nearest and dearest. This means that, left up to the family, not only would the death certificate have the wrong gender on it but also the wrong name.

You don’t need a Gender Recognition Certificate (i.e. to have changed the gender on your birth certificate legally) to have your death registered as your recognised gender, your ID documents can be the ones used to put M or F on your death certificate. If you are early in your transition and have not yet changed your name by deed poll and updated your ID documents to your recognised gender, you might end up misnamed and/or misgendered on your death certificate.

Note: For those who are of a non-binary gender identity, there is currently no way to put a non-binary marker, such as X, on a death certificate (or birth or marriage).

All these problems can be avoided if you take some time to think about what feels right for you (and your partner) and to get it down in writing.

In the case of no will existing at the time of death, your property will revert to your spouse or, if no spouse, your nearest family relation (usually a sibling(s)). So, if you are in a meaningful partnership that is not legally joined and you want your partner to inherit your estate, you need to write a will leaving your estate to your partner. A simple will can be drawn up by any of the law firms on the island for about £200 and, importantly, kept safe by them. This document will be in the correct form, legally binding and very difficult to contest.

DIY will kits are available on the Internet for less than this, but we would not advise using them in this instance. DIY wills, unless they are exactly right, could be contested by your family. More advice regarding the pros and cons of DIY will kits can be found here.

A will does not cover your funeral arrangements. This is done separately in a letter of wishes that can be lodged with your will at the lawyers. Alternatively, if you do not have a will, you can pre-arrange your funeral with a funeral directors, who will lodge your details and keep them safe. Crucially, for trans people this includes registration details for the death certificate. Pitcher and Le Quesne offer this service in an easy to complete booklet.

Don’t forget you can change your mind if you decide you would like something different later on and, if your personal circumstances change, don’t forget to update your will and any last wishes.

Liberate has its first patron

We are delighted to announce that Rebecca Root, the star of the BBC2 sitcom “Boy Meets Girl”, has agreed to become our first patron.

As part of Channel Islands Pride week in 2016, Liberate invited Rebecca Root to host the inaugural Channel Islands Equality and Diversity Awards, a dinner to celebrate those organisations and individuals in the Channel Islands who are working to support equality, diversity and inclusion.

Since hosting the awards Rebecca has followed Liberate’s progress with interest and, when Liberate asked, she had no hesitation in agreeing to support the charity’s work by becoming their first patron.

Rebecca Root said: “The work that Liberate does to educate and inform about the importance of accepting one another for who we are, whatever our identity, could not be more relevant for the times we live in. We can only perform at our best at school or college, at work or play, if we feel comfortable being ourselves and accepted as such. I am very happy to be able to support Liberate’s mission by becoming their first patron.”

Rebecca is best known for her groundbreaking role in the BBC2 sitcom “Boy Meets Girl”. The series was a result of a competition to find the best script that promoted a positive portrayal of transgender characters. The project was a collaboration between the BBC and Trans Comedy to look at ways to change the representation and portrayal of trans people in the media.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO of Liberate Jersey, said: “We are hugely honoured that Rebecca has agreed to become Liberate Jersey’s first patron. Patrons are very important to charities as they lend their name and their support in order to raise the profile of the charity. For a small charity like Liberate to enjoy the patronage of someone like Rebecca is a great boost for us. Rebecca’s own work to progress equality for transgender people makes her a perfect fit for Liberate and we are looking forward to working with her.”

Getting tested for HIV couldn’t be easier

At Liberate, we provide all our employees with a free HIV test. We do it, not because we are an especially high risk group, but because it is the responsible thing to do.

To know whether or not you are HIV positive is important not just for your own health, but also for the health of others; and, those others don’t just include your immediate partner. If we are to eradicate HIV globally, we need to stop it spreading and that starts with every one of us doing the responsible thing.

HIV is a treatable condition these days, and the sooner you start treatment, the better the outcome. With the right treatment HIV positive people can live long and happy lives. Left untreated HIV will, over time, develop into AIDS, when a person’s immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.

HIV treatment keeps the virus under control by stopping it from reproducing itself. The goal is to keep levels of HIV so low that in tests the person has an undetectable viral load. Crucially, if someone with HIV is on effective treatment and has an undetectable viral load they cannot pass on HIV.

So, what are you waiting for? Getting tested for HIV couldn’t be easier. Prince Harry recently took an HIV test live on camera:

He did it through a GP, but you can do it like we do at Liberate with a home testing kit (rrp £29.95): https://hivselftest.co.uk/ (Don’t miss the special offer on the banner at the top of the page if you are purchasing a kit for you and your partner!)

To find out more about HIV and AIDS and the importance of getting tested, watch the BBC’s recent documentary “The Truth About HIV”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05p5v5f or visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website: http://www.tht.org.uk/sexual-health/About-HIV

If you are living with HIV/AIDS or have just been diagnosed in Jersey, you can get support through your GP and the States of Jersey Health Department. There is also useful information on the global AVERT website (https://www.avert.org/). If you are under 21, you can also talk to either Brook Jersey (https://www.brook.org.uk/find-a-service/regions/jersey) or Love Matters (http://www.love-matters.co.uk/Love_Matters/About_Us.html).

Why Liberate is launching DIFERA and what it’s all about

by Vic Tanner Davy, CEO of Liberate

The moment we come bawling into the world, much of our future is determined. We are handed a set of identities by society based on characteristics over which we have no control – our skin colour, our nationality, our gender, our sexual orientation, our social class, our school year, our mental and physical abilities, our religion – and, depending on how these identities fall for us, we may go through life never experiencing prejudice and discrimination in any meaningful way or, for others, it may be a daily occurrence.

Over the last forty-seven years the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands have put in place legislation that recognises that there is an inequality at the heart of our society that is biased in favour of particular groups, and that those who are part of a minority or visible minority require the support of governments, through the laws they make, to address that inequality by levelling the playing field.

Last year, the “Female FTSE Board Report” found that fewer than 10% of the three most senior positions at FTSE 100 firms were held by women, compared to nearly a third of less powerful non-executive roles; the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s “Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion Report” found that half of people living in poverty are either themselves disabled or are living with a disabled person; and, the Social Mobility Commission reported that young people from black and Asian Muslim communities are more likely to be unemployed and face social immobility later in life than working class white boys despite doing better at school. I could go on…

The question then poses itself, “Why do inequalities like this still exist after nearly fifty years of talking about equality and diversity?” A large body of psychological research tells us that the answer lies within us. Our brains are wired to categorise and to do so very quickly. From an evolutionary standpoint, this has advantages but from a social integration standpoint it is problematic. As we categorise ourselves and others, we hardened the neural pathways that associate certain characteristics with certain groups of people – in other words, we stereotype those who are not like us. These unconscious biases form the basis of our prejudices.

In a chilling echo of the murder of Stephen Lawrence twenty four years ago, in April this year, twenty onlookers stood and watched as a 17 year old standing at a bus stop in Croydon was kicked and punched by ten people for no reason other than that he was born Kurdish-Iranian and was seeking asylum in the UK. The victim and his assailants did not know one another. The assault was based entirely on the prejudices of the assailants to the victim’s otherness. (Fortunately, this assault did not end in murder, but this was more by luck than design, and – unlike in the Stephen Lawrence case – the response of the police has been entirely without reproach following the force’s transformation after criticism of their institutionalised racism by the Macpherson Inquiry.)

In the wake of Brexit, the UK saw a spike in racial hate crime; in Holland and France the far right parties had sufficient support in the last twelve months to make them a credible force in elections; and, the United States elected a president on a platform that was openly hostile to Muslims and Mexicans, and disrespectful of women.

It is in this climate, then, that we are launching DIFERA – the Channel Islands first accreditation scheme that offers your organisation a way to demonstrate to employees past, present and future, suppliers and clients that you value diversity, inclusion, fairness, equality, respect and acceptance.

On joining the scheme, Liberate undertakes an audit of your employees from which we produce a report that sets out where your organisation is now on its DIFERA journey. Liberate then facilitates the forming of a DIFERA champions group from within your organisation and works with you to produce a DIFERA strategy.

Liberate offers your champions training to enable you to train your colleagues and provide inductions to new starters. Depending on your organisation’s goals, Liberate might also be required to provide further specialist training.

Having met the above requirements and completed any remedial work required by the audit, your organisation will be admitted as an accredited member of the DIFERA Scheme.

Becoming a member of the DIFERA Employer Accreditation Scheme also entitles you to a number of other benefits that are listed on the leaflets available in the room.

The scheme’s pricing is based on the number of employees in your organisation. The first year is more expensive due to the work needed to induct organisations onto the scheme. Subsequent years’ membership is charged at a nominal amount.

To sell DIFERA to you, I could talk about the business case for equality and diversity initiatives in the workplace – the return on investing in DIFERA for your organisation – but the arguments for inclusive workplaces are extremely well-documented and can be Googled easily. Instead, I want to shift the conversation away from treating DIFERA as you would a new computer system, say, and offer you this thought.

Had you asked a Victorian industrialist about the health and safety of his workers he would have asked you to provide a business case for why he should care if they suffer in his mills and factories. Today, we know better. We know that, as leaders of organisations, we have a moral duty to keep our employees safe, irrespective of any legal obligations.

In a global ecomony that, through technology, is shrinking the gaps between peoples and countries almost daily, this is how we should also approach diversity and inclusion in our organisations – as a moral duty rather than as an investment that provides a return.

In five days time, it will be the 27th anniversary of the decriminalisation of sodomy in this island. The Sexual Offences Jersey Law 1990 decriminalised sodomy provided the act took place in private and was between consenting male adults over 21 years of age.

During the debate, Deputy Jack Roche, the then President of Public Health, warned of the dangers of promiscuity due to the sexual appetite of some men having many partners in a very short space of time and the risk caused by AIDS transmitted by what he termed ‘such unnatural acts’; he also expressed concern about gay nights in clubs where transient homosexual tourists could proposition locals; he characterised Denmark’s then relatively new legalising of same-sex marriage as containing the AIDS epidemic by saying, ‘In other words, if we can lock ‘em up somewhere together they won’t be running around all over the country doing naughty things’; and, he concluded that we were now ‘in a world where morality seems to count for little’.

In the end, the law was passed by 29 votes to 8, with most members grudgingly admitting that the law had to be passed because, if we didn’t, Jersey would place the UK in an embarrassing position with regard to European commitments to human rights. The repeal of the old law was actively supported by only a handful of speakers including the Dean, the Attorney-General Sir Philip Bailhache and Senator Betty Brooke, herself a Methodist lay preacher.

These supporters might surprise you – the church and LGBTQ community seem an unlikely alliance when one considers the arguments concerning equal marriage, but it is an alliance that has precedent. It was the same in 1954 in the UK when the Wolfenden committee was established to look into homosexual offences and prostitution. This move was in large part due to pressure from the Church who were concerned with the morality of incarcerating men based on their sexual orientation.

This demonstrates the importance of not relying on those stereotypes our brains create for us. Groups that we are not members of are as varied in their make-up as the groups to which we belong. We must not assume that those from other groups who hold opposing views on a particular issue may not also be our biggest allies on other issues.

It is difficult for me to not mention the events of this week in Manchester. The radicalisation of young Muslim men that results in these sorts of atrocities will only be reversed by connecting with them, by finding out what is at the heart of their disaffection. The community who are best placed to reach these young men are the Muslim community themselves, which is why we must resist the easy stereotypes based on the otherness of Islam and work to change our view so as to see the Muslim community as allies in the fight against ISIS not somehow complicit in its rise.

This year, we will welcome same-sex marriage across the Bailiwicks. Within and outside of the LGBTQ community there are those who think that marriage should only be between a man and a woman; that marriage is a patriarchal construct that has had its day; or, that if marriage is to be opened up to same-sex couples, civil partnerships should be available to opposite-sex couples, too.

The debate has been passionate on both sides, but we must now come back together again. Just as the Brexiteers and the Remainers have to work together to figure out what a Britain looks like outside of the European Union, so we must not allow differences of opinion, over marriage or any other subject, to blind us to the good in those with whom with differ or who are different from us. We may not always agree with our partners, with our families, with our colleagues at work, with our teammates on the sporting field, with our friends supporting charitable endeavours, but we must find ways to accommodate other viewpoints. Difference is challenging but, if embraced, it also makes us stronger.

At the heart of DIFERA is the message that we must talk about our identity and the identities of others, not allow legislation to close off that avenue of conversation. Done in a respectful way it will allow us to learn. We must challenge constructively when we need to, and respect others have a right to challenge us without assuming that their challenge comes from a place of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia or transphobia. But, most of all we must listen. Listen even more closely to those voices that we disagree with or that disagree with us. We need to hear in order to understand why they are voting for the far right, why they feel their way of life is threatened, why diversity tests them.

Social media had at its inception the desire to connect people, to enable conversation, but all too often it does the opposite. We need to ask ourselves whether it is the right forum in which to have conversations about identity, values and beliefs. Is it likely that in the space of a few characters you will be able to change someone’s beliefs? Hardly.

The anonymity social media affords us gives us a false sense of confidence that we can behave in ways that would be unthinkable in a face-to-face situation. And that applies to those of us who consider ourselves liberals as much as to those of us who consider ourselves to be more conservative. Using political correctness as a stick to hit people with is just as bad as using religion for the same purpose. There are fundamentalists on both sides. Interestingly, studies have shown ultra-liberals and ultra-conservatives are equally as prejudiced – bias on both sides was largely driven by seeing the opposing group as limiting one’s personal freedom.

Consider the list of groups maligned by liberals: rich people, Christians, men, whites and the police, groups that would generally seem to have more power today than the list of groups maligned by conservatives: immigrants, gays, blacks, poor people and goths. Understandably, we would receive some dissent were we to suggest that prejudice towards Christians and conservatives is prejudice. To many it’s just standing up to bullies.

Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at New York University who studies politics and morality, suggests that conservatives don’t view it that way. As they see it, the left has won the culture war and controls the media, the universities, Hollywood and the education of everyone’s children. Many of them think that they are the victims, they are fighting back against powerful and oppressive forces, and their animosities are related to that worldview.

So, conservative or liberal, what should we do next time we see a remark that incenses us on Facebook or Twitter? Instead of shutting down the debate with a flaming rant, we need to ask that person if we can have a cup of tea with them. Ask them about their view, allow them to speak and respectfully say we disagree. One of the most consistent ways to increase acceptance is “contact with the other side”. If that contact can encompass sharing the experience of working toward a common goal, even better.

As someone from a distinct minority group in Jersey, I have often been told, “Well, Jersey’s a very tolerant place”. Meaning that, in general, we have a culture that shows a willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not necessarily agree with. So far, so good.

But, it is not so good when you read that tolerance is especially marked by forbearance or endurance. Hang on a minute – I’m being endured? Who wants to be tolerated by someone else? The implication being that you are judged in some way inferior to the person doing the tolerating.

This just isn’t good enough. We all deserve better than that. We all deserve to be accepted for all that we are, for our characteristics – those we are born with and those we choose – for all our idiosyncrasies, foibles, eccentricities and quirks.

Today, in the maternity wards of the Channel Islands, new lives will be handed their set of identities. As well as those identities I would like those children to be handed a pledge, a wish, a hope today: that they get to study the subjects they want to study, not the ones we think they should based on their identity; that they never experience playground bullying and harassment based on who they are; that they have a fair and equal chance of being accepted into their choice of further education and are not barred based on where they were born; and, that, in twenty years time, at their first job interview they are assessed on their qualifications for the role, not what they look like or how the interviewer thinks they might behave in the workplace.

Twenty years – that is how long we have to make the move from tolerance to acceptance. It isn’t a pipe-dream, acting on our prejudices isn’t inevitable, it is possible to make this change, but we cannot rely on legislation to do it for us. It will take every single one of us to acknowledge our biases and to work to minimise them in all that we do and all that we are in the world.

I entered the workplace in Jersey in 1992, two years after senior politicians here delayed and tried to block the passage of legislation to decriminalise homosexuality because of their own prejudices and, in the States chamber, proclaimed their own ill-informed views as if they were facts about a minority. A minority who, at that time, were watching friends, partners and icons die from a disease for which there was no cure. Because when the gay communities of New York and San Francisco first alerted the medical profession to what was happening to them, the Reagan administration in the United States refused to acknowledge it and under-funded research into it. A prejudice against a minority that cost lives, and whose legacy continues today.

In twenty years, my generation will be leaving the workplace, let’s see if we can leave it a diverse, inclusive, fair, equal, respectful and accepting place for those babies being born today.

Liberate launches new Channel Islands quality mark

On Thursday 25 May 2017 at Radisson Blu, Liberate launches its DIFERA employer accreditation scheme.

This is the first scheme in the Channel Islands to award organisations with a quality mark that demonstrates to employees (past, present and future), to clients and suppliers that your organisation places Diversity, Inclusion, Fairness, Equality, Respect and Acceptance at the heart of what you do.

The DIFERA quality mark is awarded to organisations following an independent audit of your employees carried out by Liberate, the formation of your own diversity champions team and train-the-trainer training enabling your diversity champions to train their colleagues and inductees on the essentials of the scheme. Membership of the scheme is renewed annually and organisations are expected to undertake an audit every three years to ensure they are maintaining the standards required for scheme membership.

Details of the scheme will be provided at the breakfast launch where our guest speakers will be Sharon Peacock from Law At Work, who is a specialist in employment law with experience of both the UK and the Channel Islands, and Andrew Dowling-Wright from the sponsors of our launch, Systematica Investments.

We will also have a panel of early adopters of the scheme representing a range of sectors: The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society, Citi, Jersey Hospice Care and Radisson Blu, who will take questions from audience members.

If you would like to find out more about our DIFERA employer accreditation scheme, please click here.

Appointment of a new Chair and announcement of CI Pride 2017

We have appointed a new Chair to our board of members to take over from Christian May who, as founding Chair, steps down after two and a half years. Rachel French will be Liberate’s new Chair and one of her first tasks is to announce that Channel Islands Pride 2017 will be on Saturday 9 September in Jersey.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO, said: “We are sorry that work commitments have meant that Christian May has had to step down from leading Liberate. He has been an exceptional Chair and Liberate would not be the in the strong position that it is today without his hard work, vision and leadership.

“We are, however, delighted to announce the appointment of Rachel French as Chair of Liberate and look forward to working with her on some of the exciting projects that we have planned for the next two years.

“Rachel comes to Liberate with impeccable credentials from her time as Macmillan Cancer Support’s Fundraiser responsible for Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands; Durrell’s Head of Fundraising; and, as Race Nation’s Third Sector Manager. She has also been a volunteer support worker for Samaritans and committee member for Off the Record, a Portsmouth based charity.”

Rachel French, Chair of Liberate, said: “I am honoured to join the Board of Liberate at an exciting time in its development, and to be a part of the team during this next step on the journey.  I’d like to thank Christian for everything he has done, for Liberate and for the individuals and communities with which we work and support. I look forward to moving us closer to the Vision of a truly inclusive community where we are all proud of who we are, a place where we feel valued and accepted.

“I am very pleased to announce that Channel Islands Pride will be held in Jersey this year on Saturday 9 September. We will be starting a little bit later than in previous years and we suggest that people wishing to take part in the parade arrive at West’s Centre for 2.30pm. We will end the parade in Weighbridge Square, where there will be the Pride village and entertainment on the Pride stage. We hope that all those who support equality and diversity, who are proud of their identity, whatever that might be, their families and the organisations they belong to will join us for an afternoon of celebration.”

To chime with the passage of legislation in the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey enabling same-sex couples to marry, the theme of this year’s Pride is #IDo. Liberate are encouraging those coming to Pride this year to dig out their hats and come dressed for the biggest wedding party ever!

Follow all the Channel Islands Pride news on www.channelislandspride.org

CXO appointment

After advertising for its first paid position, Liberate has appointed Patricia (Paddy) Haversham-Quaid as its CXO (Chief Experience Officer).

Paddy’s role is to ensure that all those who interact with Liberate and are external to it receive the best possible experience from that interaction. Paddy’s responsibilities include:

  • Connecting those external to Liberate, including but not limited to donors, suppliers, government, the media and the public (“the Customer”), with those internal to the Charity, such as Members, Officers, beneficiaries, employees and volunteers; and,
  • Finding ways to make the Customer’s interactions with Liberate as lively, creative and engaging as possible by meeting the Customer’s needs and exceeding their expectations.

Liberate is delighted to welcome Paddy to the senior management team. Paddy brings her experience of event management and fund raising to Liberate, working with private donors and corporate sponsors to produce memorable charitable events. She was Durrell’s Events and Corporate Social Responsibility Manager until the end of 2016.

Prior to working in the Third Sector, Paddy was a headhunter, a career that took her all the way round the world and built her strong interpersonal skills and ability to understand what a client needs in order to deliver on it. She returned to Jersey, her birthplace, in 2014 after 28 years of travelling the globe.

Paddy also has experience of working to support and address minority and visible minority issues. She was the Chair of the Upper North Island committee of Women on Boards in New Zealand, a member of the GABA (Gay Auckland Business Association) committee, and Fund Raising Director for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Australia. Paddy has been working for Liberate as a volunteer for over two years and was one of its founding committee members. In 2016, she threw herself out of a plane above Jersey to raise funds for CI Pride.

If you would like to contact Paddy about Liberate, please email paddy@liberate.je She should be pleased to hear from you and guarantees to respond to your enquiry.

Supported by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for the Channel Islands

Marriage update

Liberate has recently spoken with the Chief Minister’s Department and they have confirmed that they are still on track to have same sex marriage passed into Jersey law in December 2017.

The law is with the law draftsman and we should see a draft very soon.

Brexit has thrown an almighty spanner into the works and is producing large amounts of legislation in the UK that needs royal assent at Privy Council. This will have a knock-on effect on Jersey’s marriage law, which as primary legislation will also need to go through Privy Council. This makes the timing of the passing of the law tricky to predict.

The Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law has undergone a complete overhaul to address issues such as making the process for all couples wanting to give notice of intention to marry simpler, clarifying the legal position and responsibilities of step-parents, introducing immigration and identity checks to prevent sham and forced marriages, and enabling couples to choose what the marriage certificate says on it – spouse/spouse, husband/wife, wife/wife or husband/husband. The new law will also not include the so-called “spousal veto” that affects transgender partners in an existing marriage.

The whole process has touched many areas of legislation – some predictable like family law, some not so obvious like tax law – and has had to be worked through carefully to ensure that same sex married couples do not find themselves being discriminated against unintentionally or excluded from a basic right offered by other laws to opposite sex married couples.

There are still some knotty issues to be worked out regarding parental responsibility as it relates to surrogacy and same sex couples, pensions and pension recognition on the death of a spouse, and who the lead taxpayer should be on the personal tax returns of married couples.

Liberate applauds the care that is being taken to get all the island’s legislation right for same sex couples so that, when the law is finally put in place in Jersey, it will be fit for purpose and will not have to be “patched” or return to the States for debate at a later stage.

gay-marriage-uk

The following media release was made public yesterday (21 February 2017) by the States of Guernsey:

Following the registration of the Same-Sex Marriage (Guernsey) Law, 2016, in January, two Ordinances have been drafted, which are required in order to commence the Law and make necessary changes to other Guernsey legislation in preparation for its introduction.

The Ordinances will be considered by the Legislation Review Panel in early March. If the Legislation Review Panel approves the Ordinances, they will be lodged for consideration at a future States Meeting. The earliest opportunity for them to be debated by the States will be at the States Meeting which commences on 26 April.

If the States approve the Ordinances at that meeting, the Law to enable same-sex marriages to take place will come into effect on 2 May 2017. This would mean that the earliest possible date for a same-sex marriage to take place would be 4 May 2017. In order for that to be possible, couples would need to qualify for, and obtain, a special licence from the Greffe, which allows marriages to take place one clear day after giving notice.

It is important to note that, until the Ordinances are approved by both the Legislation Review Panel and subsequently by the States, there is no certainty that the legislation will come into force on 2 May 2017. Furthermore, same-sex couples who are considering getting married should discuss their circumstances with the Greffe before making wedding plans in order to ascertain the notice period applicable for them.

Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, President of the Committee for Employment & Social Security said:

“People are keen to know when same-sex couples will be able to get married in Guernsey. We thought it important to share the information that we have, which is to the best of our knowledge and dependent on the timetable being met as explained.”

Some helpful links are in this ITV Channel report for those wishing to get married in Guernsey.

XX – The 70273 Project

Every year, on 27 January,  the world commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day honouring the victims of the Holocaust. Most people are not aware that the Nazi genocide started with disabled people. Persons with handicaps were the first guinea pigs designated for all extermination, sterilization and euthanasia techniques – later applied also to homosexuals, gypsies and political opponents – that finally culminated in the Holocaust of the Jewish population.

buchenwald_disabled_jews_13132

Sterilization, internment and deportation campaigns of people with disabilities started in 1933, in the months immediately after Hitler’s rise. The Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring became one of the means by which the Nazi party implemented its racial and eugenic legislation. After an intensive sterilization campaign -the little known T4 project – in the second half of 1939, they proceeded to systematically kill young people and adults with disabilities. The National Socialist ideology considered these persons as imperfect human beings, and their lives as not worth living.

Between January 1940 and August 1941 (before the Holocaust began), 70,273 physically and mentally disabled people – men, women, teens, boys, and girls – were murdered by the Nazis. Though they never even laid eyes on the disabled person they were evaluating, the Nazi doctors read the medical files and, if from the words on the page, the person was deemed “unfit” or an “economic burden on society”, the doctor placed a red X at the bottom of the form. Three doctors were to read each medical file, and when two of them made a red X on the page, the disabled person’s fate was sealed. Most were murdered within 1-2 hours.

Jersey is taking part in a worldwide quilt-making project called The 70273 Project that commemorates the lives of the disabled people murdered by the Nazis. Members of the public are invited to drop in and sew a block on 4 February 2017 at St Lawrence Parish Hall between 10am and 3pm. You do not need any experience of quilting or even be able to sew. There is an interview with the organisers by the Jersey Evening Post here.

As a charity that supports minorities, many of whom were targeted by the Nazis, this project is one that we urge you to give your time to. It doesn’t take long to make a block for the quilt and, with Holocaust Memorial Day less than a week away, it is a different way to remember those who lost their lives.

If you cannot attend on 4 February but would like to make a block, download the instructions here.

If you want to find out more about this period of hidden history, the Holocaust Memorial Day website has more information.

Friendly fostering

Have you ever considered starting a family but discounted it because the road to having children seems just too hard? This week, Liberate met with the States of Jersey Fostering and Adoption Services and what we discovered might surprise you.

There is no barrier to anyone adopting or fostering children in Jersey. The only criteria is you must be over 25 years old to apply to adopt or foster. You do not have to be in employment, you do not have to be married or in a civil partnership, you do not have to be British. Applications from anyone will be considered and you would never be rejected on the grounds of your identity.

Crucially, Fostering and Adoption are looking for people who:

  • have a stable home life
  • are flexible with their time
  • are good listeners
  • are able to provide guidance and reassurance

LGBT couples worry that their unmarried partnership and sexual orientation will count against them when they come before a Fostering and Adoption Panel. This is not the case. The first same-sex adoption happened in Jersey over 10 years ago. Fostering and Adoption confirmed that single LGBT people, LGBT people who are living together (i.e. not married or in a civil partnership), as well as LGBT married couples (from 2017) or those in a civil partnership, would all be considered suitable parents to apply to adopt or foster a child. The law has also changed recently to allow couples who are living together to adopt jointly.

Currently, Fostering and Adoption are looking for more foster parents than adopters. Fostering can be a hugely rewarding. It is a way of providing stable family life for children and young people who are unable to live with their parents for a period of time. Placements can last for days, months or even years. Many children return home to their families but others may receive long-term support through continued fostering, adoption, residential care or by being helped to live independently.

Fostering week is in May and we will be working with Fostering and Adoption to promote their open days.

In the meantime, if you are interested in finding out more, visit Fostering and Adoption or email them at fosteringandadoption@health.gov.je