by Ismail Akwei, at 05:35 am, February 12, 2018, Politics

Bermuda officially bans same-sex marriage after brief assent

Bermuda’s governor John Rankin has signed the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 that officially banned same-sex marriage after a Supreme Court ruling legalized it in May 2017.

The bill, introduced in November last year, was passed by parliament and approved by the Senate on December 13 to replace gay marriages with domestic partnerships.

“After careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the Constitution, I have today given assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017,” the governor announced last week after months of pressure from LGBT rights groups.

Groups in Britain’s oldest remaining colony had petitioned British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to veto the ban.

“This bill effectively states that you are a second-class citizen because of who you love, and creates increased division within an already very divided country and within a minority all at once,” Winston Godwin, a gay Bermudian said in a statement cited by UK’s Daily Mail.

Godwin and his then Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche, won the May 5 case that legalised gay marriage. The judge Charles-Etta Simmons had ruled that they were discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation upon refusal to process their notice of intended marriage.

The UK supports same-sex marriages and Godwin argued that the ban violates the UK Human Rights Act, as Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory.

Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Harriett Baldwin said in the House of Commons last week that, “We are obviously disappointed about the removal of same-sex marriage in Bermuda.”

Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown who had tabled the bill in parliament said the new bill rather provided legal recognition to same-sex couples.

“The rights now guaranteed under the Domestic Partnership Act include: the right to inherit in the case of no will, the right to a partner’s pension, access to property rights, the right to make medical decisions on behalf of one’s partner and the right to live and work in Bermuda as the domestic partner of a Bermudian,” he was quoted by Caribbean360.

Gay couples who married on the island before the law was passed will keep their status.

Meanwhile, some LGBT rights groups have vowed to challenged the new law.

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