The British overseas territory Bermuda has become the first jurisdiction to repeal same-sex marriage, signing a bill into law reversing the rights for gay couples to marry.
The island government intends to replace gay marriage with domestic partnerships, reports The Guardian.
The new Domestic Partnership Act will roll back the legislation. Walton Brown, Bermuda’s minister of home affairs said of the repeal, “The act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples.”
Though the U.K. government has the power to block the law change, they have deemed it inappropriate to do so, explained Foreign Office minister Harriett Baldwin while speaking to MPs.
“After full and careful consideration in regards to Bermuda’s constitutional and international obligations, the Secretary decided that in these circumstances it would not be appropriate to use this power to block legislation, which can only can be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even then only in exceptional circumstances,” she said.
Though Prime Minister Theresa May aired her ‘disappointment’ with the ruling, she also stated that as the bill was “democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda” the U.K. government ought to be respectful of the decision.
However, the U.K. government is experiencing cross-party pressure to explain why Bermuda was given permission to repeal same-sex marriage rights in the first place.
Labour MP Chris Bryant criticized the move on Twitter.
So @BorisJohnson has granted permission to Bermuda to abolish same sex marriage. This totally undermines UK effort to advance LGBT rights.
— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) February 7, 2018
And there have been calls across social media to boycott tourism of Bermuda in wake of the new law.
#LGBTQ travelers beware. #Bermuda's governor John Rankin signed legislation into law repealing marriage equality. “Governor Rankin and the Bermuda Parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality,” said Ty Cobb of HRC.
— Christopher Muther (@chris_muther) February 7, 2018
What a shame. Have never spent tourist dollars in Bermuda and now I never will. https://t.co/rkQe2xdZF1
— Rick Riordan (@camphalfblood) February 8, 2018
Always wanted to visit Bermuda. Welp, that ain't happening now. https://t.co/dRYP5MRY7l
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) February 8, 2018
Welp, guess I'm not going to Bermuda anytime soon, now that they REPEALED same-sex marriage. #BoycottBermuda
— Peter Paige (@ThePeterPaige) February 8, 2018
It is with great sadness that I will no longer be going to @Bermuda for my annual weeklong beach vacation. Feel free to invite me back when you stop discriminating against #LGBT people. https://t.co/QvcV6Mb4uJ
— Jeremy Burton (@BurtonJM) February 8, 2018
I should add, we were on our honeymoon and the barman wouldn’t serve us. So yeah, don’t waste your money in Bermuda. https://t.co/9IiHxoOiVl
— Emma Kennedy (@EmmaKennedy) February 7, 2018
Ty Cobb, the director of Human Rights Campaign Global, has said that, “Governor Rankin and the Bermuda parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality.”
LGBT rights groups are critical of domestic partnerships, claiming that they amount to second-class citizen status.
Any same-sex marriages that took place between now and the Supreme Court ruling in May 2017 will be recognized under the new law.
Feature image via GQ