Bermuda faces fresh lawsuit after re-banning same-sex marriage

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda

Earlier this month, Bermuda became the first country to legalise and then repeal same-sex marriage.

The island nation and North Atlantic British Overseas Territory’s Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage last year with a landmark ruling, after it deemed a ban on such a union a discriminatory violation of human rights.

However, in February, Governor John Rankin signed a bill replacing the legislation with The Domestic Partnership Act, which will allow gay and straight couples to form domestic partnerships in the government’s attempt at offering “equal rights”.

Same-sex couples who wed since last May will not have their marriage annulled.

Walton Brown – minister of home affairs – said the ruling aims to balance opposition to same-sex marriage with European court rulings, ensuring recognition and protection for same sex-couples on the socially conservative island.

The ruling was met with widespread backlash from international human rights groups, who claim the decision contradicts Bermuda’s constitution of protecting its citizens from discrimination.

Now, gay Bermudian man Rod Ferguson has launched a legal challenge against the nation’s decision to re-ban same-sex marriage.

“I rejoiced when Bermuda finally established the right for same-sex couples to marry in 2017 and I had planned to exercise that right someday, but then it was taken away through the passage of the Domestic Partnerships Act,” Ferguson said.

“I strongly believe that this is a fundamental human rights issue, that everyone is entitled to the same protection of law which includes the service of a contractual marriage in Bermuda.

Pro-marriage equality campaigners in Bermuda / © Tony Brannon via Instagram

“When the rest of the right-thinking world has accepted the position that marriage should be available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike, it is very disappointing that my own country has effectively moved backwards.

“I am grateful for what so many others have done to contribute to Bermuda’s movement toward marriage equality, and I’m privileged to be in a position, with the support of family, friends, and the LGBT community, where I can now stand up and do my part.

“I have taken the decision to make this legal application to protect my rights along with the rights of so many of my fellow Bermudians.”

Ferguson will be represented by Mark Pettingill of Chancery Legal law firm, who added to The Royal Gazette: “This man’s, and many other people’s, fundamental rights and protections under the law have been usurped.

“I strongly believe that this is a fundamental human rights issue, that everyone is entitled to the same protection of law which includes the service of a contractual marriage in Bermuda.

“When the rest of the right-thinking world has accepted the position that marriage should be available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike, it is very disappointing that my own country has effectively moved backwards.

“I am grateful for what so many others have done to contribute to Bermuda’s movement toward marriage equality, and I’m privileged to be in a position, with the support of family, friends, and the LGBT community, where I can now stand up and do my part.

“I have taken the decision to make this legal application to protect my rights along with the rights of so many of my fellow Bermudians.”

Bermuda is a North Atlantic British Overseas Territory, which means that the UK government could technically veto any legislation that it deems contradicts human rights.

However, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gave Bermuda permission to repeal their decision on same-sex marriage, effectively giving them to OK to pass the anti-gay law.

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