Bermuda abolishes same-sex marriage after legalising it a year ago

Violet Powell
February 9, 2018

"Governor Rankin and the Bermuda parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality", the official statement said.

The British overseas territory's governor signed legislation into law Wednesday night that replaces same-sex marriages with domestic partnerships.

"The British government recognises that this is a local government decision", Brown said, adding that the act struck a compromise by "restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples".

In December, the majority of Bermudan legislators voted in favor of the bill, which effectively swaps same-sex marriage for domestic partnership.

But minister of home affairs, Walton Brown, said the legislation signed by Mr Rankin seeks to balance opposition to same-sex marriage on the socially conservative island while complying with European court rulings that ensure recognition and protection for same-sex couples in the territory.

'The Act is meant to strike a fair balance between two now irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, ' he continued.

LGBT rights groups said domestic partnerships amounted to a second-class status and it was unprecedented for a jurisdiction to take away the legal right to marriage after it had been granted.

PA Archive  PA Images                   David Lammy has slammed Boris Johnson's decision
PA Archive PA Images David Lammy has slammed Boris Johnson's decision

This makes Bermuda the second place in the world to repeal marriage equality, according to one source - California was the first.

Same-sex marriage was approved by Bermuda's supreme court in May a year ago and was celebrated by the island's small gay community.

Same-sex marriage in Bermuda was outlawed yesterday after the Governor gave Royal Assent to an Act created to replace it with civil partnerships. Countries like Ireland, Greenland, Germany, Brazil and few others have legalized same-sex marriages in the recent years after a lot of struggle by the community. Ultimately, she declared 'same-sex couples are entitled to be married under the Marriage Act'.

"Bermuda will continue to live up to its well-earned reputation as a friendly and welcoming place, where all visitors, including LGBT visitors, will continue to enjoy our beauty, our warm hospitality and inclusive culture", Brown stated. LGBTQ Bermudans earned the right to marry in May 2017, when a judge ruled that Bermuda's Registrar General could not reject a gay couple's application to marry.

Labor MP Chris Bryant labelled the bill a "deeply unpleasant and very cynical piece of legislation".

Activists have also lobbied Boris Johnson, as foreign secretary, to intervene.

"This is not equality", Joe Gibbons, a gay Bermudian who is married to his partner, told The Guardian. "While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda government acting within the terms of the Bermuda constitution and in accordance with global law".

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