The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda has voted overwhelmingly against marriage equality.
Bermuda, a collection of small North Atlantic islands with a population of 65,000, held a non-binding referendum on same-sex marriage on Thursday 23 June to give the government an idea of public opinion.
Voters were asked two questions: “Are you in favour of same-sex marriage in Bermuda?” and “Are you in favour of same-sex civil unions in Bermuda?”
Premier Michael Dunkley had urged voters to make sure they were on the “right side of history”, but his pleas fell on deaf ears as Bermudians rejected marriage equality by a two-to-one margin.
According to the Royal Gazette, 69% of Bermudians voted against same-sex marriage – 14,192 against and 6,514 in favour – while 63% voted against same-sex civil unions – 13,003 against and 7,626 in favour.
Only 46.89% of those registered on the electorate turned out to vote, which is below the 50% required to deem the two questions “answered”, although Dunkley said any outcome would “guide elected officials accordingly”.
The Premier said: “With yesterday’s referendum, Bermuda has expressed its democratic right to vote on two questions that have been the focus of discussion and debate for more than a year.
“Based on the Referendum Act 2012, a referendum question shall be taken to be unanswered if less than 50 per cent of the persons registered in the parliamentary register vote at the referendum.
“And with the results indicating a majority ‘no’ vote, and a less than 50 percent turnout, the Government will now consider the next steps that respects and reflects the views of the people.”
Pro-LGBT rights campaigner Tony Brannon mourned the result, stating: “Obviously, it’s a very disappointing result so far; very disappointing for equality. We tried hard.”
Preserve Marriage, a campaign group against same-sex marriage, celebrated the win but reminded followers that the LGBT community are “our loved ones, our family members and our friends”.
They said: “Although we disagree on this current topic, we are confident that we can continue to love and respect one another as we live in peace and harmony together.”
While sexual intercourse between men was decriminalised in Bermuda in 1994, the age of consent remains higher for same-sex couples, and attempts to legalise same-sex marriage have continuously been shot down.
You can find the full results of the referendum over at elections.gov.bm