New immigration rules for same-sex couples
The Minister of Home Affairs will this week issue instructions to binational same-sex couples in the wake of a high-profile court ruling.
Late last year, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled that standing immigration legislation was in conflict with the Human Rights Act in that it discriminates against same-sex couples, preventing non-Bermudian partners from having the same rights to reside and seek employment as the spouses of Bermudians.
The implementation of the ruling was delayed until today so the government could make the necessary changes to comply.
In a statement this afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs stated: “In order to give effect to the judgment, the minister shall this week be issuing instructions that non-Bermudians in a permanent same-sex relationship with a Bermudian must follow in order to demonstrate permanency of the same-sex relationship and obtain an entry/re-entry letter from the Department of Immigration.
“If an application is subsequently approved by the minister, the non-Bermudian same-sex partner of a Bermudian in a permanent relationship will be able to reside and seek employment in Bermuda and work free of immigration control subject to conditions set by the minister.
“In addition, changes will be made in short order in this parliamentary session to the Government Fee Regulations 1976 to charge the applicant for issuance of the requisite entry/re-entry letter. The fee will be commensurate with similar entry/re-entry letters.
“The Department of Immigration will also release an application form which will assist both the applicant and the Department to ensure that applications are processed in a consistent and fair fashion. This will be in place in the next week or so. In the meantime the Ministry of Home Affairs urges potential applicants to remain patient while administrative processes are finalised.”
Earlier today Premier Michael Dunkley announced that government would hold a referendum on the subject of same-sex marriage while community minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin tabled legislation aimed at creating civil unions.
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