The tiny Pacific territory of Pitcairn has passed a law allowing same-sex marriage – despite having only 48 inhabitants, no gay couples and potentially no one to officiate any such wedding.
The British Overseas Territory initially passed the law on May 15 but the news did not get out straight away due to an error on the island’s website.
Deputy Governor Kevin Lynch said the law change was suggested by British authorities after marriage was redefined to include gay couple in all parts of the UK apart from Northern Ireland.
Local resident Meralda Warren told the Daily Mail that despite the new law she did not know of any gay couples on the island. “It’s not Pitcairn Islanders that were pushing for it, but it’s like anything else in the world. It’s happening everywhere else, so why not?”
She said the law was not a point of discussion among the islanders until the outside world finally heard the news.
“I kind of cracked up when I saw the Google alert in my inbox. I scanned down, and smiled again, and thought ‘We’ve kept that one quiet for a couple of months.'”
Warren added that she only ever knew of one gay islander, and that was a long time ago.
Despite the law change, any gay couples hoping to travel to Pitcairn to get married may still face some difficulty – the only preacher on the island is a Seventh Day Adventist, a denomination that vehemently opposes gay marriage.
The island has been inhabited since 1789, with the majority of inhabitants descended from the famous Bounty mutineers who took control of their ship and set the captain adrift. They eventually landed and settled in Pitcairn with Polynesian women they had met previously.
The island was also subject to controversy in 2004 when six men – a substantial portion of the island’s tiny population – were jailed for child sex offences.