PITCAIRN Island, considered by some the world’s smallest country with just 46 permanent residents, has just legalised same-sex marriage.

The legislation that was passed unanimously by the local council allegedly came into effect on May 15, but it was not reported until June 22 due to technical issues with the government’s website.

Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the group of four volcanic islands – which are spread over hundreds of kilometres – form the furthest part of the British Overseas Territory.

Deputy Governor Kevin Lynch said the change to the existing marriage laws were suggested to the colony by British authorities after England, Wales and Scotland enacted same-sex marriage last year.

As per custom on the island, when the law was successfully amended a notice was placed on the verandah of the town hall and a second at the island’s general store.

Seventh-generation resident Meralda Warren said the push for reform was not driven by local citizens, but by a desire to remain abreast with changes in the international system.

“It’s happening everywhere else, so why not?” she said.

Although marriage is now possible for same-sex couples on the island, Warren notes that there was only one known resident who identified as gay – but that was a long time ago.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the island’s progress on the issue may lead to it becoming a popular tourist destination for couples looking to wed.

“Assuming there’s not a residency requirement, I could imagine some couples from off the island [who] might find it a romantic destination, including Australians who can’t marry in their own country,” he said.

Northern Ireland is the last remaining jurisdiction of the United Kingdom to not yet legislate on the issue.

Members of the Commonwealth, including Australia, similarly remain outliers.

“The majority of Australians who support marriage equality will be bewildered and frustrated that we are falling behind places as diverse as Catholic Mexico and tiny Pitcairn Island,” Croome said.

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