The conservative-minded British island territory in the Sargasso Sea rolled back a relatively recent move to condone same-sex marriage, opting instead to recognize domestic partnerships, to the chagrin of its small homosexual community.
Bermuda’s Governor John Rankin has signed a controversial bill approving the repeal of same-sex marriage provisions, making Bermuda the first country to introduce and later abolish the right of gays and lesbians to marry their sexual partners.
“After careful consideration, in line with my responsibilities under the constitution, I have today given assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017,” the Governor’s statement read.
In December, the majority of Bermudan legislators voted in favor of the bill, which effectively swaps same-sex marriage for domestic partnership.
The Guardian quoted Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown as saying that the legislation constitutes a compromise between the recognition of same-sex couples and the will of the majority, who overwhelmingly voted against gay marriage in the 2016 referendum.
“The act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples,” Brown stated.
The law reverses the Supreme Court decision that legalized homosexual marriage, though registered homosexual partners will continue to enjoy equal rights with married heterosexuals under the new legislation.
Less than a dozen gay couples got married in Bermuda since the Court’s judgment in May 2017.
The repeal provoked a strong reaction from the small homosexual community in Bermuda and a number of human rights activists.
For instance, Director of Human Rights Campaign Global Ty Cobb blasted the country’s political leadership for the decision.
“Governor Rankin and the Bermuda parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality,” the official statement said.
The twitter reaction, however, was even more polarized with some voicing their approval of the government’s decision, while others expressed support to the homosexual couples.