The Bermudan government will not battle against same-sex marriage after a gay couple won the right to tie the knot.
Last week a gay couple won a legal challenge to tie the knot in Bermuda, after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex unions is a discriminatory violation of human rights.
The plaintiffs, Bermudian native Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé Greg DeRoche, are the first couple to win marriage recognition in the country.
In a statement today, the Bermudan government confirmed it would not appeal against the ruling.
Minister of Home Affairs Patricia Gordon Pamplin confirmed: “The Government acknowledges the Supreme Court ruling handed down on Friday last and upon legal advice, we have determined that we will not lodge an appeal against the judgment.
“While we accept that wide spread support of this very sensitive and emotive issue of marriage equality is difficult to achieve, we do, however, recognize that as a community we must be able to have open and honest conversations which help to encourage awareness, understanding, tolerance and respect for one another.
“We will abide by the decision of the judiciary, and will implement the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the judgement.”
Local LGBT activist Tony Brannon told PinkNews: “The struggle for marriage equality has been won. It revealed a lot about who people are to me.
“It showed who played politics and who showed the courage of their convictions and the content of their character.”
He added: “Fighting for justice and equality is often messy. Bermuda will be a better place because of the Supreme Court ruling.”
Last year, voters in Bermuda roundly rejected same-sex marriage in a referendum which was non-binding because of low turnout.
Godwin told Bermudian publication The Royal Gazette: “I feel a huge sense of relief.
“It’s been a long road to get to this stage for me and Greg, and for [lawyer] Mark Pettingill, and also for Bermuda.
“It has been a long time coming. This ruling, although it was in our favour…there is still so much more to do in Bermuda.
“This is a big step in the right direction. I cannot thank my legal team and my supporters enough.”
The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, an LGBT group on the group of North Atlantic islands, quoted Mr Godwin and Mr DeRoche saying: “We appreciate all the positive affirmations and support.
“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.”
Lawyer Rod Attride-Stirling, who acted on behalf of the couple, said: “I am glad to see that the Bermuda court has followed…South Africa, which decided this issue in 2005, and then the United States, which followed suit in 2015.
“The message of hate and exclusion has been rejected. Human rights means human rights for all humans. Equally. No one is excluded.
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“Gays who want to marry can now do so.”
He commented that it was “a matter of great shame” that the Bermudian legislature had not acted before the courts to make same-sex marriage legal.
“Bermuda owes a huge debt of gratitude to the two brave young men who brought this action, Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche,” he added.
“They will always be remembered as heroes of the human rights movement.”
In its statement, the Rainbow Alliance said that the ruling was “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.”