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St Helena, Home of Famous Gay Tortoise, Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

by Brittany Ferrendi
Sunday Dec 31, 2017

Now Jonathan and Frederic the Tortoises can have the wedding of their dreams.

In a 9-2 vote, British Overseas Territory St Helena's legislative council voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Weddings could happen within weeks.

"It is simply about equality," said Legislative Council Member Lawson Henry according to St Helena Online. "If this house cannot uphold the constitution then why are we here today, and why do we have a constitution? This bill has never been about religion, it is about equality and protection of minority groups."

Member Cyril Leo voiced concerns of a "deep divide" on the island, and worried about retaliation from "homophobic elements" in their society. Regardless, councillors should "make love our greatest quest."

"We cannot discriminate," said council member Christine Scipio-o'Dean. We must not, and we must strive to ensure equality."

Same-sex acts in St. Helena were legalized in 2001. In 2009, the island implemented anti-discrimination laws.
Jonathan the Tortoise

Jonathan is the world's oldest known tortoise, and possibly the world's oldest living creature. He's also been in a relationship with another male tortoise, Frederic, for the past 26 years.

In 1991 he was given a mate named "Frederica." They lived those 26 years together, mating once a week, until doctors discovered this year that Frederica was a male. They renamed him to Frederic.

Jonathan was given as a gift to the governor and is honored on the five pence coin.

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