Pressure on Britain to veto partnership Bill
Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, is under pressure to veto Bermuda’s ban on same-sex marriage, a UK newspaper said yesterday.
The Mail on Sunday, a conservative tabloid that sells around 1.28 million copies in Britain, added that John Rankin, the Governor, had taken “advice on requesting Mr Johnson’s authorisation to veto the bill”.
The newspaper also said Mr Rankin had to get approval from the foreign secretary before he could withhold consent on an Act passed by the island’s Parliament.
The news came less than a week after the Senate backed the Domestic Partnership Bill, which is designed to replace same-sex marriage with a watered-down legal relationship open to both gay and straight couples.
The Mail on Sunday said Mr Johnson’s position was “fraught with difficulties” and that a veto would “spark uproar and accusations of neocolonialism” in Bermuda.
It added that if the Act is signed into law by Mr Rankin, Bermuda would face a backlash from a boycott of its tourism industry.
A foreign office spokesman told Mail on Sunday: “The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and continues to support same-sex marriage.
“While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this Bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law.”
The article, published yesterday, also quoted Chris Bryant, a former Labour government Overseas Territories Minister, who called on Mr Johnson to let Mr Rankin veto the Act.
Mr Bryant said: “A British citizen, regardless of what part of Britain they’re from, should have the same rights.
“If approved, the law would make Bermuda the first country in the world to cancel gay marriage after previously allowing it.”
Political heavyweights in the US have also hit out at the island’s removal of marriage rights.
Howard Dean, a former presidential candidate, a former Governor of Vermont and one-time chairman of the Democratic Committee, tweeted on Friday: “Progressive Labour Party in Bermuda just eliminated gay marriage. Americans who really are progressives should find another vacation spot.”
The tweet had nearly 1,500 retweets and more than 3,300 likes by yesterday afternoon.
Same-sex marriage became law in England and Wales in 2013 and in Scotland, which has a devolved Parliament and its own legal system, a few months later in 2014.
Same-sex marriage is not recognised in Northern Ireland after it was blocked by the hardline Democratic Unionist Party in the province’s Assembly.
Civil partnerships for gay couples had become law nine years earlier and applied across the UK.
“Government House yesterday declined to comment on the Mail on Sunday story and referred to its statement last week that “in considering this matter, the Governor will continue to act in accordance with his responsibilities under the Constitution.”