Bermuda Is About to Ban Gay Marriage — Again
The island territory is ending gay marriage six months after it became legal.
Six months after Bermuda legalized gay marriage, the island territory is on the verge of reversing the law, thus becoming the first country to ban the unions for a second time.
On Thursday, Bermuda’s Senate voted 8 to 3 to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and instead imposed domestic partnerships as an alternative. The vote came less than a week after the House passed a bill banning gay marriage in the small British territory.
The reactions to the news were deeply divided.
“As human beings we should have the ability to enter into a marriage between two people who love each other and this relationship should be recognised by the state,” said Bermudan Senator Andrew Simons, who opposed the bill prohibiting gay marriage.
Simons said the issue is “bigger than politics” and called bill “an affront to people’s dignity.”
Senator James Jardine voted in favor of the bill to ban gay marriage because, he said, the ban reflected the will of a majority of Bermuda’s citizens.
“This Bill is not perfect and some are not pleased from many points of view. It does attempt to address the different needs of a small community,” he told Bermuda’s Royal Gazette. “I hope in a very short period of time the views of the broader community will change.”
At least six same-sex couples have married since May, when gay marriage became legal after a Bermuda judge ruled that preventing couples from marrying violated the country’s Human Rights Acts by discriminating based on sexual orientation. Bermuda will continue to recognize those unions.
Worldwide, 26 countries recognize gay marriage with Austria and Taiwan on pace to also legalize gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in almost all of the UK—which owns Bermuda. In the UK, marriage is a “devolved issue,” which means each UK members’ domestic governments can choose whether or not to recognize gay marriage.
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Despite significant progress toward equal rights in much of Europe and North America, LGBTQ individuals continue to face discrimination and violence throughout the world, including in countries that recognize gay marriage.
Though Bermuda is a wealthy country, about 11% of the population lives below the poverty line. Low-income LGBTQ individuals are especially vulnerable to violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, human rights advocates note.
Egypt, Indonesia, and Chechnya have all restricted LGBTQ rights in recent months. In Egypt and Indonesia, LGBTQ individuals face arrest on “debauchery,” “immorality,” or “blasphemy” charges while in Chechnya, they experience violence, torture and murder — often at the hands of the police.
The LGBTQ community and human rights advocates are nevertheless fighting back by demanding equality and an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the fight against hate, inclusive language and positive media depictions of the LGBTQ community can go along way, activists told Global Citizen.
“This is a big obstacle, especially for media allies,” one Egyptian activist told Global Citizen. “[But] the role of the media could be as simple as just using positive language.”