The British government has said it will not overrule a Bermudian law passed earlier this month which abolishes same-sex marriage, less than a year after the institution was imposed by a court decision.
Bermuda's parliament passed a bill in December 2017 which abolished same-sex marriage, and rather allowed both opposite- and same-sex couples to form domestic partnerships. The Domestic Partnership Act was approved by Bermuda Governor John Rankin Feb. 7.
“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,” said Bermudian home affairs minister Walton Brown.
“Bermuda will continue to live up to its well-earned reputation as a friendly and welcoming place, where all visitors, including LGBT visitors, will continue to enjoy our beauty, our warm hospitality and inclusive culture.”
In a 2016 referendum, Bermudians had voted against gay marriage by 69 to 31 percent, but a May 2017 Supreme Court ruling legalized the practice.
As a British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is a self-governing territory under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. The British government is thus able to block Bermudian laws, but it was deemed inappropriate to do so.
“That 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,” said British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Eight same-sex marriages were contracted in Bermuda while the practice was legal, and they will continue to be recognized.
Some proponents of gay marriage have advocated a boycott of Bermuda over the new law, but others have argued it would counterproductive and would only harm same-sex persons in the territory.
The Domestic Partnership Act 2018 already faces legal challenges in the courts.