Cruise giant hopes to resume onboard same-sex weddings after defeat of Bermuda anti-gay law

Cruise ship giant Carnival says it hopes to resume onboard same-sex weddings on its ships, after an anti-gay law was struck down in Bermuda.

Carnival was forced to scrap same-sex weddings onboard its 24 vessels registered in Bermuda earlier this year when the British Overseas Territory enacted a law banning same-sex marriage.

The company, whose subsidiaries Cunard, Princess and P&O Cruises all operate ships out of Bermuda for financial reasons, part-funded a lawsuit from local LGBT rights activists seeking to overturn the offending law.

The Bermudian Supreme Court struck down the law on Wednesday (May 6), finding that it violates the Constitutional rights of gay people to deny them the right to marry.

The decision is stayed for six weeks while the government considers an appeal, but Carnival is now hopeful it will be able to resume weddings.

Cunard ship Queen Elizabeth (Creative Commons/Pjotr Mahhonin)

Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “We are delighted that the supreme court of Bermuda has decided that same sex marriage is legal in Bermuda and we congratulate OUTBermuda on its hard-won challenge.

“As a result of the judgment, it will also now be legal for same sex couples to marry on board cruise ships registered in the country.

“As a company committed to equality, inclusion and diversity, we believe everyone deserves equal dignity and respect, and we are proud to have provided our support to OutBermuda’s efforts to champion marriage equality.

“We will now be working closely with the Bermudan authorities to understand when we will be able to resume marrying same sex couples on board.”

Cunard ship Queen Mary 2 (Creative Commons/Brian Burnell.)

The company had apologised to customers earlier this year when it closed bookings to same-sex weddings because of the Bermudian law.

Facing a wave of negative publicity it had provided funding and support to local LGBT rights groups in a bid to overturn the law.

Carnival had said the “active engagement” in its registered home port was important to the company, adding: “Carnival Corporation believes our employees, guests and the public at large deserve equal dignity and respect.”

It said at the time: “Our engagement includes providing [LGBT group] OUTBermuda with financial, civic and public relations support, as well as involvement by our company.

“While we always abide by the laws of the countries we sail to and from, we believe travel and tourism brings people and cultures together in powerful ways.

“As a result, we believe it is important to stand by the LGBTQ community in Bermuda and its many allies to oppose any actions that restrict travel and tourism.”