Same sex marriage repealed in Bermuda


Bermuda has become the first nation in the world to grant and repeal same-sex marriage rights. With its recent Domestic Partnership Bill, the British territory will revoke the option of an official marriage for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples will now be only eligible for recognized domestic partnerships.

Same sex marriage was made legal in Bermuda by a May 2017 Supreme Court ruling, and legislation to repeal these rights was introduced only months later, citing results of a 2016 referendum that showed little support for same-sex marriage. On February 7, despite much backlash from the public, civil rights groups, and even MPs, British diplomat John Rankin, who serves as Governor of Bermuda, signed the Domestic Partnership Bill into law.

In defence of the bill, officials have cited the unpopularity of same-sex marriage among Bermuda’s largely conservative population. According to Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown, “it is the Government’s belief that this Act addresses this position while also complying with the European Courts by ensuring that recognition and protection for same sex couples are put in place.”

This may be considered an excuse, though, as the results of the 2016 referendum should be considered invalid due to low voter turnout. There is a requirement that 50% of voters participate in order for the referendum to be valid and only 46.89% of the electorate voted, according to the Royal Gazette.

This is very unfortunate, as it appears that defenders of the bill, including Walton, wish to manipulate the values of democracy and use them to justify a clear attempt to deny equality to an already marginalized group. Backlash has also been directed at Boris Johnson, British Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, a group in support of rights for Bermuda’s LGBTQ community, said in a statement, ”This legislation creates a ‘watered down’ version of rights, leading to a separate-but-equal status under the law. Ultimately, no separate-but-equal measure allows for equality or justice.”


Dominque Brodie