Bermuda is trying to ban same-sex marriage again, months after first weddings

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Bermuda could become the first country in the world to re-ban same-sex marriage.

The Bermudan government has launched a bill that would revoke same-sex marriage, just months after it became legal.

The first same-sex couples tied the knot in Bermuda in May this year, after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex unions is a discriminatory violation of human rights.

However, the country’s government is fighting back – and this week rolled out a bill that would reverse the ruling.

The Bermudan Minister of Home Affairs, Walton Brown, revealed a new ‘Domestic Partnership Bill’ after a prolonged campaign from anti-LGBT lawmakers.

The legislation, which Brown put out for consultation, would introduce a new ban on same-sex marriage despite weddings having already taken place.
Bermuda is trying to ban same-sex marriage again, months after first weddings

Existing same-sex couples would stay married, but new couples would only be able to enter segregated ‘partnerships’.

The government explains: “The bill will essentially replace same-sex marriage with a domestic partnership arrangement which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

“It should be noted that all same-sex couples who are already married will not have this designation taken away from them.”

Brown added: “This topic has been a prolonged matter of great division in our country.

“The purpose of this public consultation period is to gain feedback from the public on the current draft Bill regarding domestic partnerships and answer any questions that anyone might have.

“Stakeholder groups have already been informed as we seek to move forward in a collaborative way.”

The statement continues: “The Minister of Home Affairs the Hon. Walton Brown JP MP is seeking the public’s feedback regarding a current draft bill on the topic of Domestic Partnerships.

“Members of the public are invited to send comments and questions to the following email address: [email protected].

“There will be a two week public consultation period which will begin today and conclude on Wednesday November 15.”

Preserve Marriage, the group seeking to overturn same-sex marriage in the country, recently had its charitable status renewed.

Bermudian native Winston Godwin and his Canadian husband Greg DeRoche were the first couple to win marriage recognition in the country.

A change to the law in Bermuda could be a major spanner in the works for cruise liners based in Bermuda.

Bermuda-based cruise line P&O Cruises has already begun taking bookings for same-sex weddings at sea, with ceremonies beginning in January 2018.

As the company’s fleet is primarily registered in Bermuda, it is able to offer legally-recognised gay unions at sea under Bermudan law.

A new ban on gay unions could force the cancellations of the weddings.

UK law forbids any marriage to be carried out at sea, which is why many cruise companies who wish to perform marriages register in other countries.

The first ceremony is scheduled to be held in the Caribbean in January 2018, aboard the ship Azura.

Related: Bermuda newspaper has perfect response to first same-sex marriage