Bermuda governor signs bill reversing same-sex marriages
Bermuda’s governor on Wednesday approved a bill reversing the right of gay couples to marry in the British overseas territory, Reuters reported.
Published: February 9, 2018, 9:06 am
Despite a Supreme Court ruling authorising same-sex marriage last year, Governor John Rankin reversed the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in May 2017, celebrated by the gay community at the time.
The ruling had outraged many on the mainly conservative island, including church leaders, and thousands protested outside the parliament of the wealthy Atlantic island of 60 000 inhabitants.
Gay rights groups have expressed anger at the decision saying the new legislation “contradicts” Bermuda’s constitution, which guarantees freedom from discrimination.
But Rankin’s supporters argue that the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 offers equal rights already. It was passed by Bermuda’s House of Assembly and Senate, allowing any Bermudian to form domestic partnerships.
Moreover, same-sex couples who got married after the ruling last year, will not have their marital status annulled.
The trend among Western countries has been the legalisation of same-sex marriage. “I feel enormously disappointed,” gay Bermudian Joe Gibbons told Reuters. “This is not equality, and the British government has obviously just said, ‘This is not our fight.’”
The governor declined to comment, issuing a brief statement instead. “After careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the Constitution, I have today given assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017.”
Walton Brown, Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs, on Wednesday welcomed the decision. “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.”
Bermuda is self-governing, with its own constitution and its own government, which enacts local laws, while the United Kingdom retains responsibility for defence and foreign relations.
Its two largest economic sectors are based on offshore insurance and reinsurance, and tourism and it boasted one of the world’s highest GDP per capita for most of the 20th century.
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