Group criticises domestic partnerships plan

A gay rights group has backed a human rights watchdog’s view of the controversial Domestic Partnership Act as a backward step.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said it agreed with the Human Rights Commission that the proposed legislation created a “watered-down” version of rights for gay couples.

The alliance added: “Ultimately, no separate but equal measure allows for equality or justice.”

The group spoke out after Walton Brown, Minister of Home Affairs, tabled the Domestic Partnership Act, designed to recognise gay unions — but stop far short of equal rights to marriage.

The HRC said on Monday that the proposed Bill was “a de facto removal of rights from same-sex couples”.

And the watchdog warned the Act could mean that Bermudian domestic partnerships would not be recognised abroad.

The HRC also made recommendations for amendments to the proposed legislation and said that “controversial issues” should be given a consultation period longer than two weeks.

The Rainbow Alliance added it was “disappointed” that the Government had “taken the approach to remove marriage equality from the law”.

The group said members of the island’s LGBTQ+ community were entitled to the same rights as everyone else on the island “including having their loving, committed relationships recognised both locally and internationally”.

It added: “It is unfortunate the Government sees fit for Bermuda to become the first jurisdiction globally to have marriage equality rescinded.

“This is not the international reputation that our country should strive for.”

The organisation said it was committed to providing safe and inclusive spaces in Bermuda.

The alliance added: “Proposing legislation that allows for further division between the LGBTQ+ community and the Bermuda community at large does nothing to help move Bermuda forward to become a more just and equal society.”

Preserve Marriage — which launched a well-funded campaign against same-sex marriage — kept its head down over the controversy.

Repeated calls and e-mails to representatives of the organisation were not responded to.

Mr Brown unveiled the proposed legislation earlier this month.

The draft Bill came six months after a Supreme Court ruling paved the way for same-sex couples to marry in Bermuda.

Mr Brown described the Act as a “compromise piece of legislation” at a public meeting this month.

There have been six same-sex marriages in Bermuda so far.

A total of seven banns have been posted, and a maritime same-sex marriage is pending.

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