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In world first, Bermuda repeals its same-sex marriage law

Less than one year after legalizing same-sex marriage, Bermuda has repealed the Supreme Court ruling that authorized gay marriage.
People wave gay rights movement rainbow flags during the gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, Russia on August 12, 2017. (Photo: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images)

Less than one year after legalizing same-sex marriage, Bermuda has repealed the Supreme Court ruling that authorized gay marriage in May 2017. It is the first nation in the world to grant same-sex couples the right to marry, only to revoke it.

In December 2017, a bill to ban same-sex marriage and replace it with a Domestic Partnership Act was passed by the Bermudan parliament, and on February 7, 2018, it received royal assent from John Rankin, the Governor of Bermuda. Bermuda has been heavily criticized by human rights groups and LGBTQ supporters for its decision, as has the UK for its passive sanction of the repeal.

British Labour MP Chris Bryant called the bill a “deeply unpleasant and very cynical piece of legislation” during a debate in the UK’s House of Commons last month, and tweeted the following when the repeal was given royal assent:

So @BorisJohnson has granted permission to Bermuda to abolish same sex marriage. This totally undermines UK effort to advance LGBT rights.

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) February 7, 2018

Rankin issued a very brief, very bland statement that summed up the UK's hesitation to get involved in Bermuda's business: “After careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the constitution, I have today given assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017."

The news of the repeal has kicked off a #BoycottBermuda social media campaign to remind those who support same-sex rights not spend their tourist dollars there.

#Bermuda was at the top of my list for my March vacation, but since the shameful decision by @BdaGovernment to strip away marriage rights from same-sex couples, I will spend my $$ elsewhere! I hope all #LGBTQ friends and allies do the same!

Bermuda is a British overseas territory that is markedly more socially conservative than the UK. Same-sex relationships are generally lived in secret, and gay couples often choose to emigrate to the UK—where Bermudans have citizenship—rather than remain in their home country. In the short time that same-sex marriage was legalized, eight LGBTQ couples were married, and those marriages will still be honored under the Domestic Partnership Act.

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Bermuda's flag. Photo: Getty Images.

Bermuda's Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown believes the act is a good compromise for the island and says the government will give same-sex couples who register for domestic partnership “rights equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples." He continues:

“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 recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples."

Whether this repeal is an isolated event or just the first domino to fall throughout the world remains to be seen, but the news has raised the possibility in people's mind that progress is not necessarily permanent.

Never assume progress is secure, never stop fighting for equality, never take anything for granted. https://t.co/l2uK7dLh6W

— Humanists UK (@Humanists_UK) February 8, 2018


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