Bermuda becomes the first country in the world to repeal same-sex marriage.Bermuda’s governor John Rankin on Wednesday, February 7 approved a bill reversing the same-sex marriage rights despite a Supreme Court ruling authorising right of gay couples to marry in the British overseas territory last year, reported Reuters. The decision by the governor in the wealthy Atlantic island of 60,000 people is a rare reversal of same-sex marriage rights. The move has been severely criticised by international human rights groups as the new legislation contradicts Bermuda’s constitution, which guarantees freedom from discrimination.
Currently, Bermudian are allowed to form domestic partnerships under the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 which already passed by Bermuda’s House of Assembly and Senate. Moreover, same-sex couples who wed in recent months will continue to enjoy their marital status.
Refusing to comment any further, the governor in a brief statement said, “After careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the Constitution, I have today given assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017.”
While the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in May 2017 was celebrated by the negligible gay community, it outraged many on the socially conservative island, including church leaders. Walton Brown, Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs was pleased with the decision and said, “The British government recognises that this is a local government decision”. He further added that the act struck a compromise by “restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples.”
Bermudian lawyer Mark Pettingill said that he might challenge the governor’s decision through a constitutional route. He was the one who won the marriage equality case in the Supreme Court.
Prominent LGBTQ rights activists are encouraging people to boycott the Atlantic island using the hashtag #BoycottBermuda.