Wednesday, 9 July 2014

March for Equality!




The 8th of July 2014 could be remembered in Jersey political history as the day the States of Jersey disgraced itself by failing to stand up for equality for all islanders because they didn't have the courage to oppose those motivated by homophobic tendencies, or it could go down as the day that islanders realised that nothing will change here unless they mobilise and organise.

The lesson that must be learnt from yesterday's shameful events in the States is that we have a collection of politicians who are completely out of touch with reality, but that situation is completely down to the fact that too many good Jersey men and women just don't go out to vote.

In October we have an opportunity to completely overhaul the membership of the States and replace those that were too cowardly to back equality with members with more integrity.

Not voting is not an act of protest, it is an act of surrender.

Reform Jersey has pledged to hold a rally and march this Saturday for those that believe in equality for the LGBT community. We'll be gathering at the Royal Square at 12pm before marching to Liberation Square at 12.20pm to hear from guest speakers and campaigners on what Jersey people can do to make sure from October we have a States that will have the courage to drag Jersey into the 21st century.

We hope you will join us.



In the meantime, here is a list of all the States Members (plus email addresses) who were too scared to do what was right, and instead kicked this into the long grass.

There are names on this list that I am incredibly disappointed to see there. They are not homophobes, but they naively backed an amendment that was fuelled by homophobia, having been duped by the more reasonable (although totally phony) elements of their argument.

But most disappointing of all is our so-called Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst who has demonstrated that he is not the Chief Minister of the islands LGBT community. He could have followed the admirable example of the Prime Minister David Cameron who (in my opinion with complete sincerity) pushed for equal marriage, even though it would be difficult to reconcile with large parts of his political and electoral support basis.

Instead, he put it off to another day and refused to stand up and tell gay and lesbian islanders that he is a Chief Minister who will represent them and stand up for their rights.

For this alone, he does not deserve a second term as Chief Minister and I will not be voting for him.


Votes for delaying an in principle decision on equal marriage -

Senator Sarah Ferguson - s.ferguson@gov.je
Senator Ian Le Marquand - i.lemarquand@gov.je
Senator Francis Le Gresley - f.legresley@gov.je
Senator Ian Gorst - i.gorst@gov.je

Trinity

Constable John Gallichan - j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
Deputy Anne Pryke - a.pryke@gov.je

St Clement

Constable Len Norman - l.norman@gov.je
Deputy Gerard Baudains - g.baudains@gov.je
Deputy Susie Pinel - s.pinel@gov.je

St Peter

Constable John Refault - j.refault@gov.je

St Lawrence

Constable Deidre Mezbourian - d.mezbourian@gov.je
Deputy John Le Fondré - j.lef@gov.je

St John

Constable Phill Rondel - p.rondel@gov.je

St Ouen

Constable Michael Paddock - m.paddock@gov.je
Deputy James Reed - j.reed@gov.je

St Saviour 

Constable Sadie Rennard - s.rennard@gov.je
Deputy Rob Duhamel - r.duhamel@gov.je

Grouville

Constable John Le Maistre - j.lemaistre@gov.je

St Helier

Deputy Jackie Hilton - j.hilton@gov.je
Deputy Richard Rondel - r.rondel@gov.je
Deputy Mike Higgins - mr.higgins@gov.je

St Brelade

Deputy Sean Power - sp.power@gov.je
Deputy John Young - j.young@gov.je

St Mary

Deputy John Le Bailly - j.lebailly@gov.je

Friday, 4 July 2014

Crunch time for Equal Marriage - How can you help?


We now have a time and date for the Equal Marriage debate in the States of Jersey.

On Tuesday 8th July at 9.30am we will crack straight into the debate which could take several hours before it culminates in a vote.

Victory is by no means predetermined.

States Members have received all sorts of correspondence from all sides of the argument.

Needless to say, the opposition to it is noticeably the least articulate and logical, but we have had more against than for so far.

We have a perfect opportunity to take a huge step towards equality for a previously marginalised group. If this fails, it will be a sad day for Jersey.


So what can you do to help?

The simplest thing would be to contact States Members and lobby them to vote for "the P.102/2014 proposition on same-sex marriage". I've copied their email addresses at the bottom of this post. You can

They are YOUR States Members and you have every right to email them and ask them to vote in favour of this. Believe me, the people who are asking us to vote against it have not needed prompting on this point!

Write them an email asking them to vote for it. It can be as long or as short as you want. It will have an effect. States Members love to reject decent propositions with the nonsensical argument of "ah, well I've not had any Parishioners contact me asking me to support this!" so don't give them that amunition.

If you are free, you are also more than entitled to come and stand in the Royal Square as members are walking into the States building (from 8.30am - 9.30am) and try and stop them for a chat to lobby them. Obviously that sort of thing requires a bit of confidence, but some people have a real knack for that and can be very persuasive, so if that's your thing, give it a try.

Finally, States proceedings are open to the public. Most weeks the public gallery is completely empty, but sometimes a specific proposition can enthuse enough people to see it packed. The presence of the public in the room does have an effect. It means members are extra careful about what they say and know that they are dealing with an important subject matter.

The entrance to the public viewing gallery is at the end of Halkett Place, opposite the entrance to Morier House. You will be scanned with a metal detector as you go in and your bags will be checked (to make sure there's no hand grenades or anything in them...). If you have difficulties with getting up stairs, there is no lift through this entrance, so you would have to go in via the Royal Court entrance and they should show you where to go.

So if you aren't working, come down and watch it. It's sure to be an enlightening event!


You have until Tuesday morning, so get emailing!!





Senators

p.routier@gov.je
p.ozouf@gov.je
a.breckon@gov.je
s.ferguson@gov.je
a.maclean@gov.je
i.lemarquand@gov.je
f.legresley@gov.je
i.gorst@gov.je
l.farnham@gov.je
p.bailhache@gov.je


Constables

s.crowcroft@gov.je
j.lesueurgallichan@gov.je
l.norman@gov.je
j.refault@gov.je
d.mezbourian@gov.je
jg.gallichan@gov.je
p.rondel@gov.je
m.paddock@gov.je
s.pallett@gov.je
m.letroquer@gov.je
s.rennard@gov.je
j.lemaistre@gov.je

Deputies

r.duhamel@gov.je
r.leherissier@gov.je
ju.martin@gov.je
g.southern@gov.je
j.reed@gov.je
c.labey@gov.je
j.hilton@gov.je
j.lef@gov.je
a.pryke@gov.je
sp.power@gov.je
k.lewis@gov.je
m.tadier@gov.je
e.noel@gov.je
t.vallois@gov.je
mr.higgins@gov.je
a.green@gov.je
j.macon@gov.je
g.baudains@gov.je
p.ryan@gov.je
j.baker@gov.je
j.young@gov.je
s.pinel@gov.je
j.lebailly@gov.je
s.luce@gov.je
r.bryans@gov.je
k.moore2@gov.je
richard.rondel@gov.je 
n.lecornu@gov.je
s.mezec@gov.je

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Reform Jersey Press Release


PRESS RELEASE ON BEHALF OF REFORM JERSEY
FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
02 JULY 2014

REFORM JERSEY TO BECOME OFFICIAL POLITICAL PARTY THIS WEEK

Jersey will have a new political party this week. The application of Reform Jersey will be processed in the Royal Court on Friday, at which point the party will be officially recognised.

Speaking on behalf of Reform Jersey, Party Chairman, Deputy Mézec said: ‘We are delighted to now be at the point of having official recognition as a Party.

We believe that voting for a party with a clear manifesto is the only way to connect one’s vote to the delivery of policies in the States.

Our first objective is to make sure people are registered to vote and know how to vote. We have already started our voter registration campaign and we have been encouraged by the positive response we have received.’

Members, friends and supporters are invited to join us in the Royal Square at 09:45am on Friday and join us in the Royal Court at 10am.

Anyone wishing more information can contact Deputy Mézec on 07797 811130 or by email: chairman@reformjersey.je

-          ENDS-

For Interviews, please contact Deputy Mézec above.
We would be delighted to see any members of the media at 09:45 for a photograph and for comment.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Electoral Reform - a chance to take a huge step forward





Here we have the proposed referendum that the people of Jersey should have been asked 10 years ago.

We are finally being offered our say on whether the recommendations of the Clothier Report on the composition of the States of Jersey should be implemented.

The review into the machinery of government in Jersey, led by Sir Cecil Clothier in 2000, proposed many far reaching reforms into how Jersey is governed. Since then, the States of Jersey has accepted all of it's proposals that concentrated power further into the hands of the senior elite in the States, without accepting the parts that proposed enhancing the democratic accountability of all politicians to the public that elect them.

Self interest prevailed, and I think that the majority of the public now lament that decision greatly.

Last years referendum did not help.

The moment the States decided to backtrack on it's decision that States Members should not be on the Electoral Commission, the outcome was doomed.

Self-interest took over once more and we all know how that turned out!

Here we have an opportunity for a legitimate referendum, with a legitimate question on a legitimate electoral system. Last time round, we had nothing but illegitimacy in the process.

If the States agree to put this question to the public (as they have tentatively already agreed to do so, however there is still one final vote to be had), then I, and Reform Jersey, will be campaigning hard for a "yes" vote on the 15th October, alongside our own personal elections.


The distribution of seats would be -



An independent boundary commission would be established to decide on the exact distribution, as well as setting the boundaries for the internal Parish districts in the larger Parishes.

It isn't perfect, but it's a heck of a step in the right direction.

Compared to what we have now, this is how it works out. The bars going down demonstrate over-representation, and the bars going up show under-representation -
This will eliminate the historic under-representation of the town. I would be committing treason against my electorate if I did anything other than support more representation for St Helier.

But the States still has a final vote coming up at the end of July to accept this referendum question, and I can already see the anti-democrats amongst my colleagues desperately scrambling for straws to clutch at, to find reasons why they should chicken out of asking the people for their say.


In the meantime, Reform Jersey presses on and is well on the road to preparing for this years elections.

If you want to find out more about the party and get involved, please contact me on chairman@reformjersey.je


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Equal Marriage Proposition


PROPOSITION

THE STATES are asked to decide whether they are of opinion −

to agree, in principle, that same-sex couples should be permitted to enter into civil marriages and to request the Chief Minister to bring forward for approval by the States the necessary draft legislation to give effect to the proposal.

Deputy S.Y. Mézec of St Helier


Report


Since 2 April 2012, same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships in Jersey, following an in principle decision by the States in 2009 to accept civil partnerships.

Provision was made in the law so that same-sex marriages from the countries that allowed it then would be recognised as civil partnerships in Jersey.

On 13 March 2014, the provisions of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force in England and Wales, with the first same-sex marriages occurring on 29 March 2014.

Once this law came into force, a gap in Jersey law came into existence, where a same-sex marriage in the UK would not be recognised in Jersey as a civil partnership, as is the case with same-sex marriages from other countries.

On 29 April 2014 I asked the following question of the Chief Minister in the States –

“Following the first same sex marriages in the United Kingdom that took place on 29th March 2014, will the Chief Minister indicate whether he intends to bring forward proposals to ensure that U.K. married couples who move to Jersey are not left unrecognised?”

In his response, the Chief Minister said –

“Jersey’s Civil Partnership Law makes provision for same sex couples married in other jurisdictions to be automatically recognised as civil partners in Jersey. This does not however currently extend to same sex couples married in England because the English legislation came into effect after our Civil Partnership Law. I have therefore instructed officers to review the relevant part of the law to enable any necessary change.”

I have lodged this proposition because I believe that the Chief Minister’s proposals to recognise UK same-sex marriages as civil partnerships in Jersey do not go far enough. I believe that to welcome married same-sex couples to Jersey by downgrading their relationship to a civil partnership does not accord their relationships the dignity and respect that they deserve from a community that is now far more accepting of same-sex relationships than it was years ago. The time to introduce same-sex marriage is now.


World trend

When the State’s first decided in 2009 to accept the principle of civil partnerships, there were only 7 countries in the world that allowed same-sex marriage. In 5 years, that number has more than doubled, with 16 countries now allowing same-sex marriage (including our two closest neighbours, France and the UK).

That is, by all definitions, a trend.

As time goes on, more and more countries will adopt equal marriage legislation. That is the unstoppable direction in which society is going and Jersey will not be an exception to that. There is no reason for Jersey to remain behind the times on this issue.

Homophobia is a vile form of bigotry that cannot be eradicated soon enough. Its eradication can only be brought forward by the community becoming more accepting of gay people. Much progress has been made in recent years, and further progress will be made by treating gay and lesbian couples as equal to straight couples under the law.

In fact, on 24 May this year, the Jersey Evening Post revealed that an online poll they had conducted with over 1,000 responses (a very good number for an online poll) 81% had said that they were in favour of Jersey allowing same-sex marriage.

Jersey is not a bigoted society. We are diverse and we are a richer community because of that diversity. I am confident that the residents of this island would welcome this change with open arms.


Churches

This proposition specifically uses the word “civil” before marriage, because it does not seek to impose the principle of same-sex marriage on religious institutions in Jersey.

Whilst the UK has gone ahead with same-sex marriage in civil ceremonies, it has not compelled any religious institutions to host such marriages. It leaves it at their own discretion, with the exception of the Church of England and Church of Wales which are not allowed to hold same-sex marriages.

It would not be right for Jersey to insist Churches hold same-sex marriages, especially the Church of England when its UK counterpart does not hold them.

So those with a religious objection to same-sex marriage can still vote for allowing civil same-sex marriages and be assured that it will not impact on their Church’s position.


Implications on States Departments and law drafting

The amount of legislation that will be required to be amended is considerable. However, officers in the Chief Minister’s department are already investigating what laws would need to be changed to implement it. Also, the process of introducing Civil Partnerships would have identified many of the areas which need consideration, so re-identifying them should be relatively quick.


Further technical implications

It would be the responsibility of the Chief Minister’s department to make sure there is a consultation process when drafting the law, so that the final proposition is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all of those set to benefit from it.

This would include looking at examples of same-sex marriage legislation in other jurisdictions than just England and Wales.

In particular, whilst same-sex marriage most obviously will affect the lesbian and gay community, there are also implications which affect the trans community, particularly with how a marriage would be recognised if a spouse decides to go through gender transition. Their views must not be left out.


Human Rights

Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights says –

“Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.”

It does not explicitly say that those men and women have the right to marry only someone of the opposite gender. The wording is ambiguous, though one can assume that given it was written in the 1950s it was not consciously intended for it to include same-sex couples.

There is currently no judgement from the ECtHR ruling that same-sex marriage is a human right. However, in 2012, the then President of the ECtHR Sir Nicolas Bratza gave a speech in which he said that the court was ready to rule that same-sex marriage is a human right as soon as enough European countries were behind it.

As the trend is towards more European countries allowing same-sex marriage, it could only be a matter of time before it is considered against human rights to not allow same-sex couples to get married. That is all the more reason for Jersey to make the change sooner rather than later.


Financial and manpower implications

It cost around £155,000 in one-off costs to introduce Civil Partnerships. I would hope that it would be less than that for same sex marriage, as the apparatus and law for marriages already exists and simply needs to be altered to remove the requirement that the 2 people entering into the marriage are of the opposite gender. Funding for this will have to come from existing budgets. Any on-going costs are likely to be negligible as there would not be an overwhelming demand. In fact, demand for civil partnerships may well decrease with marriage as an open alternative, meaning a reduced cost there. Any extra on-going costs would need to be provided for in the next Medium Term Financial Plan.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Join Reform Jersey!




Following Reform Jersey's meeting last night, we are now officially opening up for membership requests.

If you wish to become a member, please send an email to chairman@reformjersey.je with all of these details -

Title - Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/ other 
Surname
Forenames
Date of birth
Address - Parish - Postcode
Home phone number
Mobile Phone Number
Email address
Please indicate to what extent you would be willing and able to campaign/ volunteer for the party


There is no membership fee to join Reform Jersey. However, if you are able to make a voluntary donation, that would be much appreciated!

Party membership in Jersey is strictly confidential. We are not required to, and will NOT, publish our membership list under any circumstances.

The party has the right to refuse or revoke membership to somebody who has demonstrated that they do not share the values of the party or that they behave in a way which is likely to bring the party into disrepute.

Membership of the party will give you voting rights at our meetings.


At the meeting last night we ratified a party constitution and elected office holders. We agreed that we would hold an AGM on the 19th of June to elect further office holders and the management committee as well as vote on amendments to the constitution.

Following that, we will hold a public launch event.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Public Meeting at the Town Hall - Role of the Chief Minister


On Thursday this week Reform Jersey will be hosting a public meeting to discuss the proposed changes to the role of the Chief Minister.

On the 29th April, States Members will be debating the biggest change to the way that Jersey is governed since ministerial government was introduced in 2005.

There has been virtually no public discussion on the proposed changes whatsoever, and we have no idea if the public are concerned that power is being taken away from the States Members they elect and given to a Chief Minister that they don't elect.

Reform Jersey opposes these changes and believes that democracy in Jersey is under threat, yet again.

We are providing an opportunity for members of the public to stand up and give their opinions on this important topic and hopefully give an indication to the States on what the public mood is on these changes.


If you care about democracy and accountability in Jersey politics, we hope to see you there.


Date - Thursday 24th April
Time - 7.30pm
Venue - Town Hall, St Helier