A spokesman for the Bermudan Prime Minister has confirmed that a cruise for gay families will not be visiting the island later this year.
The cruise, hosted by lesbian comedian Rosie O’Donnell, was the focus of faith-based protests when it visited the Bahamas in 2004.
Bermudan church groups had promised action against the visiting gay families, and the Prime Minister had previously said he would not ban the cruise ship from visiting.
The ship was scheduled to stop at the island after departing from New York on July 7th.
R Family Vacations, the company owned by Ms O’Donnell that organises the event, was said by the Prime Minister’s spokesman to be concerned about “what might occur if the cruise stopped in Bermuda.”
Andre Curtis of United By Faith had previously summed up the combative mood of some church groups on the island:
“We may just choose to pick them (the cruise passengers) up by bus and bus them to our church, to different denominations, and have the pastors pray for them,” he said, according to The Royal Gazette.
Opposition MPs in Bermuda were critical of the attitude of the churches.
Veteran human rights campaigner and PLP MP Renee Webb said:
“It’s a sad day for Bermuda, the church thinks it can dictate who can come to Bermuda and who can’t,” she told the Gazette.
“Today homosexuals, tomorrow who?”
Ms Webb said she understood why the gay cruise had decided to avoid Bermuda.
“They’re not taking a risk and you can’t blame them. They said they had 880 children on the ship. These children have been adopted by parents who are same sex couples and the children know.
“But it’s one thing to know it, another thing to be faced by people with placards calling your parents whatever nasty names they chose to call them.
“It’s a shock, the kids were traumatised and they don’t want to go through that again,” she said, referring to the rough reception gay families received in the Bahamas.
Rosie O’Donnell has been arranging cruises for gay and lesbian families since 2004 and her success was documented in 2006 in the HBO show All Abroad Rosie’s Family Cruise.
The inaugural cruise of 1,500 people set sail on a seven-day trip to the Caribbean on one of the largest cruise ships in the world.
This cruise was particularly special for Ms O’Donnell as she had only recently married her long time girlfriend Kelli Carpenter in San Francisco.
The couple have three adopted children and are expecting a fourth, who was conceived via sperm donation.