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Bermuda bans same-sex marriage - just months after legalising it

The legislation marks an unusual turnabout after a Supreme Court justice ruled to allow gay marriage in May.

Image: Shutterstock/Amy Walters

SENATORS IN SOCIALLY conservative Bermuda have voted to restore a ban on gay marriage, overturning a right granted by its top court earlier this year.

The Senate approved the Domestic Partnership Act, which replaces the right to marriage with the ability to form same-sex partnerships, by a vote of 8-3.

The self-governing British territory’s lower House of Assembly passed the same bill on Friday by a 24-10 margin. It will now be sent to the governor for his signature, widely seen as a formality.

Government Senate Leader Kathy Simmons said the bill reflected “the majority sentiment,” according to The Royal Gazette, a local outlet.

“We have a bill that gives rights to the minority. It also protects the interests of the majority,” she added.

The legislation marks an unusual turnabout after a Supreme Court justice ruled to allow gay marriage in May.

The new measure was engineered by the ruling Progressive Labor Party that came to power in July, and supported by many socially conservative churches.

Those couples who have married since May will not be stripped of their legal status, but some fear it could tarnish the reputation of the popular tourist destination.

“On a global scale, Bermuda has and continues to rely on its soft power — our power to attract nations and people to our shores and our culture,” Jeffrey Baron, Bermuda’s shadow minister for national security, told AFP.

“How utterly shameful,” he added.

Michael Dunkley, a former premier and current MP, added he was “disappointed” in the government’s short-sightedness.

“Throughout history, if we hadn’t stood for minorities the world wouldn’t have progressed,” he said, adding: “So many politicians legislate for the next vote, not for future generations.”

Bermuda is a self-governing territory but still often looks to Britain, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014.

© AFP 2017

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