'Not appropriate' to veto Bermuda anti-gay marriage law

Bermuda has become the first country in the world to legalise and then repeal the same-sex marriage.

Gov. John Rankin today signed a bill into law replacing marriage rights for same-sex couples with domestic partnerships in the archipelago, a self-governing British national territory in the Atlantic Ocean.

Under the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, already passed by wide margins by lawmakers of the Bermuda's House of Assembly and Senate in December past year, any Bermudian will be allowed to form domestic partnerships which the government says will offer equal rights.

The Guardian quoted Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown as saying that the legislation constitutes a compromise between the recognition of same-sex couples and the will of the majority, who overwhelmingly voted against gay marriage in the 2016 referendum.

Same-sex couples previously married under Bermuda law will continue to be recognized as being married and overseas same-sex marriages taking place before and during the transitional period will be recognized as marriages in Bermuda, Rankin said.

LGBTQ civil rights groups said that domestic partnerships amount to a second-class status and that it is unprecedented for a jurisdiction to take away the legal right to marriage after it has been granted.

As reported by local news outlet Bernews, Rankin stated that same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples under the new law, which include the right to make medical decisions for one's partner.

The Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled in May 2017 that same-sex couples could legally marry.

At a time when the legalisation of same-sex marriage is gathering steam around the world, Bermuda's decision has been heavily cirticised by LGBT campaigners.

A Supreme Court ruling had in May 2017 made same-sex marriages legal in the British Overseas Territory despite opposition.

He added: "Same-sex couples already married under Bermuda law before the commencement date of this Act will continue to be recognised as being married".

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

Labor MP Chris Bryant labelled the bill a "deeply unpleasant and very cynical piece of legislation".

The junior foreign office minister, Harriet Baldwin, noted that the United Kingdom government was "obviously disappointed" with the reversal but insisted the Bermuda government passed the law through legal means: British territories, including Bermuda, are "separate, self-governing jurisdictions with their own democratically elected representatives that have the right to self-government". When it was passed, he said it would severely undermine U.K.'s efforts to advance LGBT rights.

Joe Gibbons, a 64-year-old same-sex "married" Bermudian, commented, "This is not equality, and the British government has obviously just said, 'This is not our fight'". "While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda government acting within the terms of the Bermuda constitution and in accordance with global law".

  • Rogelio Becker