Bermuda legalises same-sex marriage in landmark Supreme Court ruling

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda

Bermuda has approved of same-sex marriage following a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

After being denied the right to marry on the island by the Registrar-General, Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé Greg DeRoche brought a legal challenge to the Supreme Court.

The couple argued that the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda’s Human Rights Act protected their right to marry, to which the court agreed, deciding that not letting them marry would constitute “discrimination”.

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said the common law definition of marriage orders “deliberate different treatment on the basis of sexual orientation” and labelled it inconsistent with the Human Rights Act.

They concluded: “On the facts of this case the applicants were discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation when the Registrar refused to process their notice of intended marriage.

“The applicants are entitled to an Order of Mandamus compelling the Registrar to act in accordance with the requirements of the Marriage Act and a Declaration that same-sex couples are entitled to be married under the Marriage Act 1944.”

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, an LGBT+ charity, said they were “overwhelmed with joy” at the conclusion of the ruling, stating that “history has been made and love has won”.

They wrote in a statement: “This ruling is not only a victory for a brave young couple willing to fight for their love, Winston Godwin and his fiancé Greg DeRoche, this ruling is a victory for all same-gender loving people in Bermuda.

“In this decision, the courts have affirmed that the love between two consenting adults is worth protecting with law, regardless of gender.

“This outcome ensures that same-gender couples can enjoy the same legal protections as heterosexual spouses do. This outcome preserves the notion that love is the greatest force of all.”

In reaction to their victory, Winston and Greg said: “This has been a long process, but well worth the fight.

“Hopefully this brings forward hope and courage for those who were/are afraid to speak up or come out. This is a moment we are proud of and will never forget.”

The couple have announced that they intend to resubmit their application to marry “within days”.

Bermuda, a collection of small North Atlantic islands with a population of 65,000, held a referendum on same-sex marriage last June which saw an overwhelming majority vote against changing the law.

69% voted against marriage equality, and only 31% voted in its favour, however only 46.89% of those registered on the electorate turned out to vote, which is below the 50% required to deem a question “answered”.



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