Will Bermuda’s Governor and UK’s Boris Johnson block gay marriage repeal?


Greg DeRoche & Winston Godwin

After making it through parliament, there are now calls for legislation reversing same-sex marriage in Bermuda to be vetoed.

Last week, both houses of parliament voted to pass a bill that would replace the right of same-sex couples to marry with domestic partnerships.

The move comes six months after the Bermuda Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in May.

If enacted, the law will see Bermuda become the first country in the world to have marriage equality repealed.

The bill could still be blocked from becoming law if the Governor of Bermuda, John Rankin, declines to approve it – a highly controversial move.

However, to do so Rankin requires the approval of British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory; it is internally self-governing but the UK is responsible for defence and foreign relations.

The Daily Mail reports that British MPs have pressured Johnson to allow Rankin to withhold his signature.

There have also been growing calls for the governor to veto the bill. Winston Godwin, the man who won the Supreme Court case urged Rankin to “do what is right, not necessarily what’s easy.”

He explained: “This bill effectively states that you are a second-class citizen because of who you love, and creates increased division within an already very divided country and within a minority all at once.”

The pending law has come under fire from the Bermuda Tourism Authority, which warned that it risks creating “negative consequences” for the country.

“We believe the bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry,” said CEO Kevin Dallas in a statement. “Same-sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage.”

Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, added: “If Governor Rankin signs this measure into law, it will rip away the right of loving same-sex couples in Bermuda to marry. That’s unconscionable.

“With international business and tourism as its major industries, Bermuda’s people, international reputation, and economy would all be harmed by this legislation. It is crucial that Governor Rankin reject this assault on equality.”

While condemning the legislation, local LGBTQ group Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda does not appear to support a veto of the bill because it “would spark a constitutional crisis”.

The organisation said that, “The repercussions of that may be drastic and may inadvertently act against the LGBTQ community’s best interests.”

The group added: “We hope to still welcome LGBTQ visitors to our beautiful island, but understand that many will refuse to travel in a place where they are seen as second-class citizens. This fight has been long but we know that ultimately, love will win.”

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