Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Bermuda just repealed same-sex marriage

Bermuda It's the first known nation to take such an action. By Trudy Ring February 07 2018 7:30 PM EST
Glenn Montgomery | 09 February, 2018, 07:03

Bermuda's governor, John Rankin, approved the bill on Wednesday to reverse the legislation, despite a Supreme Court ruling past year authorising gay marriage.

The Domestic Partnerships Act passed in the House of Assembly and in the Senate, and will replace same-sex marriages with a domestic partnership which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, declined to instruct the governor to withhold his assent, deciding that the matter was for Bermudians to decide.

Still, the new act has been criticised by worldwide human rights groups who have lobbied Rankin and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to deviate from standard practice in self-governing United Kingdom territories and withhold assent.

Same-sex couples had been able to marry on the remote North Atlantic Ocean island - home to around 65,000 people - since a supreme court ruling there in May past year, which led to protests on the socially-conservative territory.

The government is hoping it doesn't keep LGBT tourists away.

Minister of home affairs Walton Brown said the legislation signed by Mr Rankin was an attempt to satisfy opposition to same-sex marriage while complying with European court rulings that ensure recognition and protection for same-sex couples in the territory.

She said that after "full and careful consideration" of Bermuda's constitutional and worldwide obligations, Johnson had decided that it would "not be appropriate" to block the legislation, something she said only took place in exceptional circumstances. "This is not equality, and the British government has obviously just said, 'this is not our fight'".

Around half a dozen same-sex marriages that have been officiated since May 2017 will now be recognised as a "domestic partnership".

A spokesperson told PinkNews: "On May 5, 2017 a Supreme Court decision was made in Bermuda legalising same sex marriages".

Global human rights groups such as the LGBT-focused Human Rights Campaign had condemned the move, which it said "unconscionably ripped away the right of loving same-sex couples in Bermuda to marry".

A bill that repeals marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples in Bermuda has received the assent of its governor.

The British territory of Bermuda has just rolled back marriage equality.

He said the bill "has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government".

The decision means that several cruise operators who are domiciled in Bermuda will no longer be able to offer same-sex weddings at sea. "I had hoped our local government would not have allowed the majority to decide on a human rights issue".

One of those outraged by the revelation was MP Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

LGBTQ civil rights groups view domestic partnerships as a second-class status.

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