Wednesday 24 June 2015 | Published in Regional
First settled by mutineers in 1790, with a population of 48, Pitcairn is a British Overseas Territory and is considered the world’s smallest country.
Kevin Lynch, deputy governor of Pitcairn said that the new law had come into effect on May 15 without much fuss, and at the time wasn’t published due to technical issues with the island’s website.
The change was suggested after British authorities in England, Wales and Scotland legalised same-sex marriage last year.
The law change was unanimously approved by the local Pitcairn council. Meralda Warren, a resident of the island, said that there hadn’t been any same-sex marriages since the law passed but that there was no reason not to pass the law.
“It’s not Pitcairn Islanders that were pushing for it,” Warren said. “But it’s like anything else in the world. It’s happening everywhere else, so why not here?”
Warren added: “I kind of cracked up when I saw the Google alert in my inbox when the news broke. “I scanned down, and smiled again, and thought, ‘we’ve kept that one quiet for a couple of months’.”
Warren was aware of just one islander who identified as gay and, while there are no gay couples on the island, they may have trouble marrying as the island’s only preacher was a Seventh-Day Adventist and opposed to gay marriage.
But Warren said Pitcairn’s administrator may be able to form the legal union if even called upon.
Rodney Croome, the national director of an Australian same-sex advocacy group said even if there were no gay couples living on Pitcairn, there might be some who had left the island who could return to marry.
“And assuming there’s not a residency requirement, I could imagine some couples from off the island might find it a romantic destination for a marriage, including Australians who can’t marry in their own country.”
Croome said the law change also sent an important message.
“It shows how much the islanders value equality and inclusion,” he said. “It effectively says that gay people belong on Pitcairn Island as much as anyone else, and that’s a positive message.”
In the 19th century, most Pitcairn residents were converted by Seventh Day Adventists and instituted strict moral codes forbidding dancing, smoking, drinking and public displays of affection.