Bermuda bans same-sex marriage, allows domestic partnerships instead

Bermuda Gov. John Rankin

After Bermuda's House of Assembly and Senate voted to reverse so-called same-sex marriage in December, the governor signed it into the law on Wednesday, making Bermuda the first country in the world to roll back gay marriage.

MPs have called Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's inaction a "source of great shame".

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman added: "We are seriously disappointed that the Domestic Partnership Bill removes the right for same-sex couples to marry in Bermuda". It replaces the right of same-sex couples to marry, introduced after a supreme court ruling a year ago along with domestic partnerships, available for all couples.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, issued this statement: "As the world faces a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ activism, Bermuda just earned the shameful recognition of becoming the first national territory to strip away marriage from loving and committed LGBTQ couples".

UK Foreign Minister Harriet Baldwin
UK Foreign Minister Harriet Baldwin

In the U.K.'s House of Commons, Labour politician Chris Bryant insisted in a tweet on Wednesday, "This totally undermines United Kingdom effort to advance LGBT rights".

"While the majority of Bermudians do not agree with same-sex marriage, 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", a statement from the government said, according to the Post. They argued that the new legislation contradicts Bermuda's constitution, which guarantees freedom from discrimination.

"The British government recognises that this is a local government decision", he said.

In a statement, the government said the new Act was "intended to strike a fair balance between two now irreconcilable groups in Bermuda", while ensuring adequate legal protections for same-sex couples were put in place.

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The island held a referendum in 2016 to ask about both same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions. Bermuda is a British overseas territory.

Bermuda has become the first country to repeal legislation allowing same-sex couples to get married.

The marriages between those couples will still be recognised, it has been revealed, but from now on gay marriage will be replaced with domestic partnerships.

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". This British diplomat acts similar to England's Queen, where he must give "assent" to the bill before it is passed.

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P&O Cruises has been forced to scrap onboard same-sex weddings, after the abolition of equal marriage in Bermuda.

In a message on Twitter, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said this stance was an absolute scandal.

Same-sex marriages from the brief period of legality will continue to be recognized in Bermuda, and opponents of the repeal have said that they may challenge the law in court.

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