UK 'Disappointed' at Bermuda's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Marsha Scott
February 9, 2018

Bermuda's same-sex marriage law has been repealed in less than a year and replaced with one that approves domestic partnerships.

The British territory is believed to be the first jurisdiction in the world to reverse course on same-sex marriage after permitting it, The Guardian writes.

The minister added the same-sex couples married between last May's supreme court decision and the new law coming into affect would continue to be recognised as being married.

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.

In a historic move, Bermuda has become the first country in the world to first legalize same-sex marriage, and then revoke it. Same-sex marriage was initially legalized in the British island territory's Supreme Court in May 2017, and has been repealed less than a year later.

Following the announcement, Mr Brown issued a statement saying it gives same-sex couples "rights equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples; rights that were not guaranteed before the passage of this Act".

Bryant asked Baldwin to provide fuller details of discussions with Bermuda, and whether Johnson or other ministers had sought to persuade the island's government against their action. She said: "When it comes to the rights of British citizens there should be no such thing as a balancing act".

While Baldwin said the United Kingdom government was "obviously disappointed" with the decision, "After full and careful consideration in regard to Bermuda's constitutional and global obligations, the secretary of state decided that in these circumstances it would not be appropriate to use this power to block legislation, which can only be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even only in exceptional circumstances".

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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 repeal provoked a strong reaction from the small homosexual community in Bermuda and a number of human rights activists.

The UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, decided it was "not appropriate" for the government to veto a decision taken by Bermuda lawmakers to ban same-sex marriage.

In a statement, the president of the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD called the news "unjust and hurtful".

The island's governor, John Rankin, approved a bill on Wednesday that reverses a Supreme Court ruling previous year authorising gay marriage.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said the Act gives rights and benefits to domestic partnerships that were “almost exactly the same as the rights and benefits of marriage”.

That vote came after a non-binding referendum in 2016 where majorities voted against same-sex marriage.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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