Ellen DeGeneres cancels trip to Bermuda over anti-gay marriage law

Ellen DeGeneres has urged fans to boycott Bermuda over its anti-gay marriage law.

Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, recently opted to abolish same-sex marriage less than a year after weddings first began.

The region has passed a law that revokes equal marriage and segregates gay couples within a lesser, internationally-unrecognised form of union known as a ‘domestic partnership’.

DeGeneres took to Twitter to voice her outrage at the decision ahead of a planned holiday in the region.

She wrote: “Bermuda just banned marriage equality. I guess I’m canceling my trip. Anybody else?”

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Incredibly, the Bermudian government has been trying to cash in on the lucrative LGBT tourism market at the same time as rolling back legislative equality.

The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Jamahl Simmons said last week that the LGBT tourism market was important to Bermuda’s economy.

He said: “I [have] spent a great deal of time in the Bermuda Tourism Authority New York office getting up-to-speed with the public relations and social media teams, particularly as it relates to the international media coverage of the Domestic Partnership Act.

“Over the past several months my Ministry has been working with the BTA to formulate the proper response that ensures travel consumers know Bermuda is a destination welcoming to everyone – including the LGBT community.”

Speaking in Parliament, he added: “I think that the message that we will continue to push is that Bermuda is welcome to all.

“Bermuda has to be a place that welcomes all, it has to be a place where all can feel included and a part of a great experience.

“The BTA, we actually had meetings in New York specifically discussing that matter, and there will be some initiatives rolled out over the next couple of months that will be continuing to address the issue.

“There are still some people who do not understand that Bermuda has now done something that many of our competitors have not done – guaranteed statutory rights for same sex couples.

“And I think that when I have somebody email me and say ‘I’m canceling my trip and I’m going to Jamaica,’ then clearly we have a better message to deliver.”

His comments were derided by the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda (RAob).

The flag of Bermuda flies as houses dot the hillside across Hamilton Harbour in Hamilton, Bermuda. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The group said: “The RAoB is shocked at the contradictory comments made in the House of Assembly yesterday regarding attracting more LGBTQ tourism. If the Government seeks to make Bermuda more hospitable for the LGBTQ community, it should start with its own citizens.

“With the recent passage of the Domestic Partnership Act, the Government of Bermuda has made it patently clear that it has little interest in the well-being of LGBTQ individuals.

“Shrouding this legislation under the label of a ‘compromis’”, it is evident that the Government of Bermuda caved to pressure by a local charity with political aims.

“Indeed, a right-wing anti-LGBTQ group based in the US, National Organization for Marriage [NOM], has publicly taken credit for their collusion with Bermudian anti-LGBTQ groups to achieve the DPA.”

It added: “The fact that the Bermuda Government has enshrined discrimination against same-gender loving couples into law cannot be softened or spun by a weak attempt of both the ruling administration and the opposition to discuss attracting ‘pink dollars’ to Bermuda.

“By removing the primacy of the Human Rights Act in relation to the DPA, the Government of Bermuda has shown its blatant disregard for the legal protections countless individuals and local organizations have spent years advocating for.

“This exchange in the House of Assembly was disingenuous at best and hypocritical posturing at worst, as an attempt to undo the damage created by the swift, damning, and harsh criticism of Bermuda from the international community.

“While the RAoB does not support the ‘Boycott Bermuda’ movement, we understand why LGBTQ people would choose not to spend their money in visiting a place where they are seen as separate but equal in the eyes of the law.

“The DPA has created a stigma that Bermuda will likely never be able to completely rid itself of, no matter the amount of marketing dollars put into a spin campaign. In an industry in which word of mouth both makes and breaks success, the Bermuda Government has failed not only Bermuda’s LGTBQ community first and foremost, but the Bermuda hospitality industry as a whole.”