Palau’s President Thomas Remengesau Jr has announced his support for ending his country’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, something that could lead to his country becoming the first Pacific islander nation to allow same-sex couples to wed.

“Those who are different doesn’t mean that they should be outcast, second class citizens, or that they can’t contribute to the community. So I want to make it clear that I don’t believe in the constitutional amendment that promotes discrimination,” Remengesau reportedly said on Wednesday.

“I want it to be on record that I support the rights of each individual, any Palauan, to be treated equally.”

“Let us treat each other with respect and dignity.”

The Palauan Constitution currently states, “the government shall provide for marital and related parental rights, privileges and responsibilities on the basis of equality between men and women, mutual consent and cooperation.”

“All marriages contracted within the Republic of Palau shall be between a man and a woman.”

Palau only changed its constitution to ban same-sex marriages in 2008. Prior to that it did not expressly ban them, though they were also not legally performed.

President Remengesau said he wanted Palau to be seen as a modern progressive nation and its ban on same-sex marriage was holding it back in that regard, which he called “a step backwards.”

“This won’t be positive for us at the UN level as the trend worldwide is opening up to these individual rights,” Remengesau said
T
he Northern Mariana Islands and Guam allow same-sex marriage, as they are US territories, as a result of the US Supreme Court’s historic ruling on same-sex marriage in June of 2015.

Same-sex marriage is also legal in France’s Pacific territories of New Caledonia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna.

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