Summary: Bermuda’s governor has signed a new law ending same-sex marriage.
After less than a year of legalization, Bermuda has ended the right for residents to have same-sex marriages. According to The Washington Post, the island territory’s governor signed a bill on Wednesday that reverses last year’s decision.
Governor John Rankin signed a new law that gives same-sex couples similar rights to married ones, but they will not get the title. Last year, Bermuda legalized same-sex marriage, but the new law abolishes it.
Rankin said that this new law called the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 is intended to be a compromise between those who are for and against same-sex marriage.
“While the majority of Bermudians do not agree with same-sex marriage, it is the Government’s belief that this Act addresses this position while also complying with the European Courts by ensuring that recognition and protection for same-sex couples are put in place,” the government announced online.
“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,” the website continued.
Critics of the new law expressed their disapproval at Bermuda, as well as the British government who chose not to intervene in its territory’s issue.
“This is not equality,” Joe Gibbons, a Bermuda resident who is in a same-sex marriage, told the Guardian. “And the British government has obviously just said, ‘This is not our fight.’”
Bermuda is one of 14 British Overseas Territories, and Governor Rankin was appointed to his post by the United Kingdom.
The subject of same-sex marriage was controversial on the island, which has 70,000 residents. Last year, voters rejected same-sex marriage, but the Supreme Court of Bermuda allowed it in May 2017. Months later, Bermuda’s Senate and House of Assembly wrote the Domestic Partnership Act and passed it in December.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said that they were “disappointed” by Bermuda’s decision, and a spokeswoman from the U.K.’s Foreign Office told the Washington Post that they had the same sentiment.
“The introduction of same-sex marriage last year put Bermuda among the most progressive countries in the region in terms of LGBT equality. It is therefore disappointing to see them taking a step backwards and removing the right for same-sex couples to marry in Bermuda,” the U.K. Foreign Office stated.
Despite disagreeing, the U.K. Foreign Office said that Bermuda has the right to self-government.
Under the new law, same-sex couples who have already wed will still be recognized as married but no new marriages will be allowed. Gay couples in domestic partnerships will receive “equivalent” rights as married couples, and this includes making medical decisions or collecting pensions.
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