Bermuda becomes the first country to repeal laws allowing same-sex marriage

Pauline Gross
February 9, 2018

Director of Human Rights Campaign Global Ty Cobb said, "Governor Rankin and the Bermuda parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality", reports said.

All of Bermuda's 60,000-strong population will be allowed to form domestic partnerships under the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, which its government says will offer equal rights.

The British island territory in the North Atlantic Ocean has approved a bill reversing the right of same-sex couples to marry, in a move critics are calling a rollback of civil rights.

Governor John Rankin announced Wednesday that he signed into assent the Domestic Partnership Act, which was passed in December in the British territory's House of Assembly and Senate.

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.

Walton Brown, Bermuda's minister of home affairs, said the new domestic partnership law was "intended to strike a fair balance between two now irreconcilable groups in Bermuda by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female".

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They further hold that the domestic partnerships amount to a second-class status and it is complete discrimination to take away the legal right to marry after it has been granted.

As reported by local news outlet Bernews, Rankin stated that same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples under the new law, which include the right to make medical decisions for one's partner.

Activists expect opponents of same-sex marriage to take steps similar to Bermuda to undermine court rulings finding that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional or unlawful. Also, any overseas same sex marriages taking place before and during the transitional period will also be capable of recognition as marriages in Bermuda.

"About a half-dozen" same-sex couples married during the window that it was legal, and those marriages will continue to be recognized under the new law, the wire service reports. "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". A month ago, he referred to the bill as a "deeply unpleasant and very cynical piece of legislation".

However Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin told the Commons on Thursday that while the government was "disappointed" with Bermuda's decision, Johnson had decided it "wouldn't be appropriate" to intervene. "This totally undermines United Kingdom effort to advance LGBT rights". "This is not equality", 64-year-old married gay Bermudian Joe Gibbons also said.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, said the British government needed to "stand up" for minority rights in Bermuda.

Other reports by GizPress

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