Bermuda replaces same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships
11 February, 2018, 05:03 | Author: Dustin Murphy
A handful of same-sex marriages have taken place in Bermuda after they were legalised by a court ruling in May 2017.They will continue to be recognised.
Couples of the same gender had been allowed to tie the knot in the British Overseas Territory since May 2017.
Because Bermuda is a territory of Great Britain, some supporters of gay marriage were looking to the British government to block the legislation, but the British government confirmed they would not seek to interfere in the referendum.
The island's home affairs minister, Walton Brown, said the new legislation would balance opposition to same-sex marriage on the socially conservative island with European court rulings that require recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said during a debate on the subject last month that Britain was disappointed by Bermudas decision to reverse marriage equality.
As part of the law, same-sex couples can make medical decisions on a partner's behalf, live and work in Bermuda as domestic partners, and various other rights.
Bermuda has repealed gay marriage after it was briefly legal on the island.
The Bermuda vote only further complicates the UK's conversation about marriage equality. It has instead replaced marriage with domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
The Foreign Office said that it was "disappointed" by the new law, but that "this is a matter for the Bermuda Government, acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with global law".
The island's supreme court ruled a year ago that such marriages must be recognized, though the measure approved by the legislature in December allows only domestic partnerships instead of same-sex marriage.
Chris Bryant, a gay Labour MP who secured an urgent question in the House of Commons over Mr Johnson's lack of intervention, said countries with poor records on LGBT+ rights would in future "laugh" at any criticism by the United Kingdom government.
LGBTQ civil rights groups have argued domestic partnerships amount to a second-class status and say it's unprecedented for a jurisdiction to take away the legal right to marry after it has been approved.
"The Domestic Partnership Act permits any couple [heterosexual or homosexual] to enter into a domestic partnership and gives same-sex couples rights equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples; rights that were not guaranteed before the passage of this Act".
Same-sex marriage was first legalized in Bermuda in May 2017 after the nation's Supreme Court ruled in favor of a gay couple who sued for equal marriage rights. Labour backbencher David Lammy said the government was on the "wrong side of human rights".
Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, branded the Foreign Office's position an "absolute scandal". "However the government tries to dress this up, it is a backward step for human rights in Bermuda, and in the overseas territories", he said.
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