The government of Bermuda is trying to ban same-sex marriage for the third time

Bermuda Pride same-sex marriage

The government of Bermuda is trying to ban same-sex marriage for the third time, as it has been banned and then legalised on the island twice already.

Although equal marriage was legalised in England and Wales in 2013, and Scotland in 2014, and Northern Ireland in 2020, the laws did not automatically extend to the British Overseas Territories, which include Bermuda, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Bermuda in May 2017, but the British overseas territory has been embroiled in a cycle of legal challenges following the decision.

Following the 2017 election, however, the Domestic Partnership Act was passed in Bermuda’s legislature, meaning that same-sex marriages were replaced with domestic partnerships.

This came into effect in June 2018, making Bermuda the first country in the world to re-ban same-sex marriage.

Soon after, the Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled that parts of the law that prevented same-sex couples from marrying should be removed.

The government quickly appealed the decision, but the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, meaning that same-sex marriage was re-legalised in November 2018, and it has remained legal since then.

It has now been revealed that the final stage of the battle between LGBT+ people in Bermuda and their own government will take place later this year.

Local LGBT+ rights organisation OUTBermuda said that the government’s appeal against same-sex marriage will be heard by the Privy council in London, on December 7, 2020.

If the Bermuda government loses the appeal at the Privy Council, it will not be able to appeal again, finally ending the legal rollercoaster and making marriage equality permanent on the island.

OUTBermuda said the top court’s decision would likely be revealed at the beginning of 2021.

According to Nation News, director of OUTBermuda Adrian Hartnett-Beasley said the organisation had “long known that our pursuit of marriage equality would be a marathon, not a sprint”.

He said the Privy Council hearing would mark the “final push to preserve our equal rights under the law for all Bermudians and all families”, and added: “We deserve no less.”

Zakiya Lord, also a director of OUTBermuda, said: “Since our first court victory and despite every obstacle put in our path, Bermuda’s loving same-sex couples have celebrated their vows under Bermuda law.

“It’s time for all of us to have certainty, protection and equal dignity that marriage rights will ensure.”

Although the government seems intent on repressing LGBT+ people, last summer saw Bermuda’s first-ever Pride parade. 

6,000 people participated, which amounts to around 10 per cent of the island’s entire population.