Six months after it began, Bermuda removes same sex marriage

Six months ago Bermuda introduced same-sex marriage following a historic court ruling, but now the country’s government has abolished the recognition and reclassified gay unions as ‘domestic partnerships’.

The Domestic Partnership Act 2017 will replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships, it was introduced this week and approved with 24 politicians voting in favour of the rollback and just 10 voting in favour of marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage originally passed in Bermuda in May 2017, after local man Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé Greg DeRoche (pictured above) took their case to the Supreme Court.

The change in the law will not remove the status of marriage from any couples who have already wed, but same-sex couples who want to tie the knot from this point onward will be referred to as ‘domestic partnerships’. Heterosexual couples will be able to choose between a marriage and registering a domestic partnership.

During the debate over the bill an amendment was inserted which allows for the recognition of same-sex marriage performed overseas.

The move is also expected to have an effect on many cruise ships who are registered in Bermuda, as they will no longer be able to offer same-sex weddings on board.

Rod Attride-Stirling, a lawyer who worked on the landmark Supreme Court case said it was a clear case of the government removing people’s rights.

“There is lawful same-sex marriage in Bermuda and there have been several marriages now, so the Government is taking away a right that exists. If the Supreme Court had not already ruled on this, then the position would be very different,” Attride-Stirling said.

“The fact that no country in the world has ever done this should give us pause. We will look foolish and oppressive, at a time when we can ill-afford this, in the light of everything going on and the spotlight shining on us for other reasons.”

The decision has also been criticised by local human rights and LGBTI groups. Bermuda is the first country in the world to introduce marriage equality and then later remove it.

OIP Staff

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