Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Bermuda becomes the first country to repeal same-sex marriage

Bermuda becomes the first country to repeal same-sex marriage

Bermuda on Wednesday approved a legislation that would do away with same-sex marriage and replace such marriages with domestic partnerships, the local Royal Gazette reported.

"While the majority of Bermudians do not agree with same-sex marriage - as evidenced by the referendum - 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", Brown said.

The island's supreme court ruled previous year that such marriages must be recognized, though the measure approved by the legislature in December allows only domestic partnerships instead of same-sex marriage.

It is understood the Foreign Office did not believe it had the legal authority to intervene because Bermuda's new legislation, the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, continues to allow gay couples to form domestic partnerships with the same rights as heterosexual couples - despite it precluding same-sex marriage.

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

Bermuda has become the first territory to repeal same-sex marriage after it was made legal in a supreme court ruling previous year.

Eight same-sex marriages that took place in Bermuda between May and now will remain recognized under the new law.

For the first time in history, a country has repealed same-sex marriage rights.

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said: "We are seriously disappointed that the Domestic Partnership Bill removes the right for same-sex couples to marry in Bermuda".

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"This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardises Bermuda's global reputation and economy".

The bill was debated by the House of Commons in London last month when Labour MP Chris Bryant, a former Overseas Territories Minister who is openly gay, called on Bermuda Premier David Burt and Brown to withdraw the legislation banning same-sex marriages in Bermuda.

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"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".

"It's a sad day for Bermuda, it's a sad day for human rights", Winston Godwin-DeRoche, who, along with his now-husband Greg, brought forward the legal challenge that resulted in the Bermuda Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality, told the publication.

Baldwin said while Johnson could overrule Bermuda in "exceptional circumstances" - this test had not been met. The repeal passed in December by wide margins.

Bryant responded by saying: "However the government tries to dress this up, it is a backwards step for human rights in Bermuda and in the overseas territories".

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