House: Same-sex unions draft bill tabled
Community minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin has tabled draft legislation which would allow the creation of same-sex unions in Bermuda.
The consultative legislation comes two weeks after legislation was tabled which would specify marriage being between a man and a woman.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin told the House of Assembly that while the issue is an emotive one, recent Supreme Court rulings and the European Convention on Human Rights required that the Bermuda Government to act.
“Before any decision was taken as a government, it was necessary to take steps to extensively research how various jurisdictions have sought to appraoch and reconcile this matter,” she said.
“We committed to sharing this information with our people and we have genuinely sought to hear from all sectors of the community on this issue and incorporate their views as we take the next step.
“I appreciate that as it relates to same-sex marriage and civil unions, the decisions are complex and difficult for many in our community.”
However, she said the bill was still in the consultative stage and discussions on the topic would continue, not ruling out the possibility of a referendum.
Around an hour later, Premier Michael Dunkley announced that a referrendum on the subject would be held.
Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt challenged the government’s lack of action following an earlier legal case, allowing unmarried and same-sex couples to jointly adopt, but Ms Gordon-Pamplin responded that consultations with stakeholders were made in the wake of that ruling.
Progressive Labour Party backbencher Kim Wilson, meanwhile, questioned if the government’s failure to appeal that judgment had led to issues; Ms Gordon-Pamplin said discussions were held but it was believed that any appeal was doomed to fail.
Opposition leader Marc Bean said a previous debate government denied concerns that introducing “two words and a comma” to the Human Rights Act would lead to same-sex marriage arguments, but Ms Gordon-Pamplin said the legislation put forward would address the issue.
While the Opposition repeatedly questioned what the government’s position was in the wake of the Bermuda Bred case, which ruled that immigration rules stood in conflict with the Human Rights Act, Ms Gordon-Pamplin said those questions should be directed to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
That ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley came into effect yesterday.
Asked about the perspective on same-sex adoption, which does fall under her ministry, she said she would bring information to the House at the appropriate time.
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