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P&O Cruises forced to axe same-sex weddings at sea

Nick Duffy February 8, 2018

P&O Cruises Azura returns to Southampton after refit in Hamburg proudly showing off her new livery.

P&O Cruises has been forced to scrap onboard same-sex weddings, after the abolition of equal marriage in Bermuda.

The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda this week became the first self-governing region in the world to abolish same-sex marriage, rolling back equality less than a year after a court ruling led to gay weddings.

The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who could have exercised a veto over the new anti-gay marriage law on legal and human rights grounds, declined to intervene in the matter – giving the green light to the change.

The decision means that several cruise operators who are domiciled in Bermuda will no longer be able to offer same-sex weddings at sea.

The Bermuda-based Cunard and P&O Cruises are among those impacted.

P&O had carried out three legal same-sex weddings to date, but will be prevented from carrying out any more.

A spokesperson told PinkNews: “On May 5, 2017 a Supreme Court decision was made in Bermuda legalising same sex marriages. We were delighted by this decision as we have wanted to offer same sex ceremonies for many years.

“Although we are awaiting further information from Bermuda, it is unfortunately likely to be the case that Bermudian law will not permit a same sex wedding ceremony on board our ships in the future.

“We are very unhappy about this decision and we do not underestimate the disappointment this will cause those guests who have planned their weddings.

“We would still love to welcome couples on board though as planned. Whilst we are unable to hold the legal ceremony we can still offer a Commitment Ceremony to celebrate their partnership or a renewal of vows ceremony, both of which will be officiated by the captain or a senior officer.”

The UK government’s decision to give the green light to the Bermudian law has ignited fury aimed at Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has previously claimed to champion global LGBT rights.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told PinkNews: “This is an utterly disgraceful piece of legislation, which turns same-sex couples into second-class citizens, just a year after they won their equality through the courts. Following a year when Australia, Taiwan and Chile have joined the march towards marriage equality, this legislation is a giant step backwards.

“For that to happen anywhere in the world would be shameful, but for it to happen in a British Territory, with the legislation signed by a British Governor, and permitted by a British Foreign Secretary, is nothing short of a scandal. Boris Johnson must explain why he has let this happen, and at the very least, should apologise for doing so.”

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable told PinkNews: “Intervening in the laws of a British Overseas Territory is an exceptional step but, in this case, one the FCO must take given an unelected governor wants to send Bermuda back to the dark ages on LGBT rights.”

Lib Dem peer Baroness Barker told PinkNews: “Boris Johnson has let down LGBT citizens not just in Bermuda but across the whole Commonwealth. The U.K. should be helping the Commonwealth to achieve peace and prosperity, not recreating the worst of colonialism.”

Amid the fury, Mr Johnson failed to turn up to answer an urgent question about his decision on the issue on the floor of the Commons, leaving a junior minister to be pilloried by MPs.

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