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On Wednesday, Bermuda’s Supreme court overturned a ban on same-sex marriage, invalidating parts of the recent Domestic Partnership Act which removed full marriage rights for same-sex couples. The court found that banning same-sex marriage violates people’s human rights.
In May 2017 the Supreme Court first ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, but pressure from anti-LGBT groups like Preserve Marriage Bermuda led the Parliament of Bermuda to draft legislation which repealed marriage equality. Bermuda became the first country in the world to reverse marriage equality in favour of inferior domestic partnerships.
The Bermuda government faced enormous pressure from the international cruise industry over it’s decision to ban same-sex marriage. Carnival Cruises, which registers it’s ships in Bermuda, helped fund the legal challenge to the Domestic partnership Act bought by LGBT rights organisation OUTBermuda and Bermuda residents Rod Ferguson and Maryellen Jackson.
“Love wins again! Our hearts and hopes are full, thanks to this historic decision by our Supreme Court and its recognition that all Bermuda families matter. Equality under the law is our birthright, and we begin by making every marriage equal,” Johnson Lord and Hartnett-Beasley of OUTBermuda said in a statement.
“We all came to the court with one purpose. That was to overturn the unfair provisions of the Domestic Partnership Act that tried to take away the rights of same-sex couples to marry.”
“Revoking same-sex marriage is not merely unjust, but regressive and unconstitutional; the Court has now agreed that our belief in same-sex marriage as an institution is deserving of legal protection and that belief was treated by the Act in a discriminatory way under Bermuda’s Constitution.”
“We continue to support domestic partnership rights for all Bermudians to choose, but not at the expense of denying marriage to some.”
Bermuda is a British overseas territory, which gave Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson the ability to prevent the repeal of same-sex marriage, but he chose not to intervene.
Foreign Office Minister Harriet Baldwin explained the decision not to act: “After full and careful consideration in regard to Bermuda’s constitutional and international obligations, the Secretary of State decided that in these circumstances it would not be appropriate to use this power to block legislation, which can only be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even only in exceptional circumstances.”
Johnson's decision met with enormous criticism from opposition parties and LGBT rights groups.