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Bermuda court to hear government appeal against equal marriage

Nick Duffy August 27, 2018
The flag of Bermuda flies in Hamilton

HAMILTON, BERMUDA - NOVEMBER 8: The flag of Bermuda flies as houses dot the hillside across Hamilton Harbour, November 8, 2017 in Hamilton, Bermuda. In a series of leaks made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Paradise Papers shed light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Bermuda’s court of appeal is to hear a last-ditch effort by the country’s government to block equal marriage.

The British Overseas Territory has been stuck in a vicious cycle over same-sex marriage ever since a May 2017 Supreme Court ruling that gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

Rather than accept the ruling, the Bermudian government passed a fresh law that controversially re-banned same-sex weddings – only for the Supreme Court to strike down that law as well  in June 2018.

The flag of Bermuda flies in the city of Hamilton, Bermuda (Drew Angerer/Getty)

 

Despite two major defeats, the government has confirmed it will launch yet another appeal, making a final last-ditch effort to keep the ban on same-sex weddings.

According to Bernews, the appeal is to be heard by the Court of Appeal from November 7 to 9.

Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown said: “We have filed an appeal in this matter. We look forward to having this matter heard by the court of Appeal.”

If the appeal is victorious, it would mean that same-sex marriage has been legalised and re-banned twice in close succession, a world first.

Equal marriage activist Tony Brannon slammed the government for squandering money on yet more attempts to stave off same-sex marriage.

He told the Royal Gazette: “The legal minds I speak to tell me it will be a slam dunk for the LGBTQ community.

“They are going to lose again — at least that’s what I think is going to happen.

“There are people having to put their hands in their pocket to fight for justice and now it is going to come out of the taxpayers’ fund.”

But Melvyn Bassett of anti-gay lobbying group Preserve Marriage told the outlet: “We believe we have done our part to encourage the Government to continue to do what the people have expressed they would like in relation to the legislation that was passed.

“We anticipate that the Court of Appeal will honour the Government’s appeal.”

A view of Hamilton Harbour in Bermuda (Drew Angerer/Getty)

Same-sex couples are currently allowed to enter a segregated form of “domestic partnership” in Bermuda under an attempted compromise brokered by the government and assented by the UK’s then-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

However LGBT+ activists say they will not settle for less than the right to marry, the same as heterosexual couples.

In addition to angering the LGBT+ community, the Bermudian government has faced ire from the cruise ship industry. Many cruise ships are domiciled in Bermuda for financial reasons and are bound to abide by the law.

Cruise ship giant Carnival has provided funding and support to local LGBT+ rights groups in a bid to cement equal marriage.

Carnival had said the “active engagement” in its registered home port was important to the company, adding: “Carnival Corporation believes our employees, guests and the public at large deserve equal dignity and respect.”

It said at the time: “Our engagement includes providing [LGBT+ group] OUTBermuda with financial, civic and public relations support, as well as involvement by our company.

“While we always abide by the laws of the countries we sail to and from, we believe travel and tourism brings people and cultures together in powerful ways.

“As a result, we believe it is important to stand by the LGBTQ community in Bermuda and its many allies to oppose any actions that restrict travel and tourism.”

More: Bermuda, court, Gay, Law, Legal, LGBT, ruling

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