The Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Church has issued a statement on the alleged same-sex marriage that was facilitated by the LDS church in Nambatu last month.

LDS Language Supervisor Christiane Tounguen explained that a couple recently started attending the church and presented themselves as “a man and a woman.”

The statement read: “They were subsequently married by a Port Vila Church leader, and they were then baptized. Before the services, as part of the preparations, they presented birth certificates indicating that one is a woman, and the other, a man.”

According to the church communique after the union and baptism, family members approached the church claiming the male in the marriage was a woman.

Stake President of the LDS church Yvon Basil mentioned that the marriage hasn’t been registered so “technically they are not married”.

Stake President Basil added that an annulment of their union is in the process which was based on the church’s investigation into claims of the couple being of the same sex.

“We spoke with the couple and family and they admitted they are of the same sex, the marriage hasn’t been registered,” he said.

The LDS church is calling on the public to be respectful and considerate of the individuals involved in the union while they continue their investigations.

“We continue to gather facts about this situation and urge all to be kind and respectful to the couple and all others involved.

“Church leaders are working with the couple and local authorities to resolve the situation”, the communique read.

The LDS church has decided not to release the names of the couple in fear that the duo would be victims to further abuse on social media and in public.

Daily Post is also respecting the said right and decision by the couple.

On the legal side, the 2015 legislative review on the Marriage Act report by the Law Commission of Vanuatu on request by the Civil Status deemed same sex marriages as unlawful and prohibits the union as it is stated under three recommendations:

  • That the new revised law of Civil Status must not cater for same sex marriage and its registration.
  • That the new revised Marriage Act must also expressly prohibit same sex marriage in Vanuatu.
  • That the new revised law of Marriage Act [CAP 60] must be consistent with the Control of Marriage Act [CAP 45] in prohibiting the celebration of same sex marriage in Vanuatu.”

In accordance with the above recommendations supplied by the Principal Legal Researcher Nadya Robert, the union between couples of the same sex is prohibited in Vanuatu.

However, Director of Civil Registry and Vital Statistics Department Benuel Lenge stated since his appointment in 2019, he hasn’t been made aware of the 2015 legislative review report on the Marriage Act.

While the Vanuatu law may remain silent on the topic of same sex marriage, in these rare circumstances Article 95 subsection three (3) of the Vanuatu constitution applies which stipulates: “Customary law shall continue to have effect as part of the law of the Republic of Vanuatu,” which is extracted under the heading of ‘Existing Law’.

This is interpreted in the 2015 Marriage Act report as: “according to the customary laws and decisions, same sex marriage is not allowed in Vanuatu, as relevant legislations are silent or do not place any restriction on foreigners.”