Bermuda repeals same-sex marriage

Bermuda has become the first country in the world to repeal same-sex marriage.

The British Overseas Territory legalised same-sex marriage through a Supreme Court ruling in May last year. It ignored the result of a 2016 referendum where voters overwhelmingly rejected its introduction.

However, after a change in Government, the British-appointed governor John Rankin has now signed into law a Bill to restore the traditional definition of marriage.

‘Will of the people’

Rankin said he gave his assent “after careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the constitution”.

The move was welcomed by the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) as “encouraging news for supporters of traditional marriage worldwide”.

C4M Campaign Director Thomas Pascoe said: “This was the will of the people clearly expressed through the ballot box.”

Repealed

The decision to drop same-sex marriage left some politicians at Westminster questioning why the UK Government did not intervene to block the legislation.

Pascoe accused those who did so of showing “contempt for voters”.

Calling for intervention, Helen Goodman, Shadow Foreign Office minister, claimed the repeal was “shameful”, and Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, described it as “an absolute scandal”.

Civil partnership

An official spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said Mrs May was “seriously disappointed” about the move.

However, they said the Bill “has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government.”

Same-sex couples on the island will now be able to have a form of civil partnership.

The first jurisdiction in the world to repeal same-sex marriage was California, whose voters overturned a state Supreme Court decision that backed the redefinition of marriage in 2008. However, the referendum decision was overturned by the courts in 2013.

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