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Same-sex marriage ruling welcomed by liners

A Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Bermuda has also opened the door to same-sex marriages on dozens of cruise ships operating around the world.

In addition to local marriages, the ruling is expected to impact the numerous cruise lines that fly the Bermuda flag, including Cunard, Princess and P&O cruise ships.

A spokeswoman for Cunard Cruise Lines said yesterday that the company — which operates the Queen Mary II, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria — welcomed the ruling.

While the cruise line has been offering same-sex couples commitment ceremonies while at sea, they had not been able to offer legally recognised same-sex marriage due to the vessels being registered in Bermuda. Cunard senior vice-president Simon Palethorpe said: “This is very welcome news for us. Cunard is the main sponsor of Southampton (England) Pride and we look forward to being able to offer same-sex marriages at sea on our world famous ocean liners.”

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises, who also operate several UK-registered vessels, said they have already been conducting “symbolic” same-sex marriages on board.

Asked if they would consider offering legal same-sex marriages on board their vessels, a spokeswoman said: “We are exploring implications of the new law.”

The Supreme Court ruling, released on Friday, found that the Registrar-General’s decision to reject a marriage application from a gay couple was discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation.

In her judgment, Justice Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that the Human Rights Act took primacy in Bermuda and protected their right to marry.

While campaign group Preserve Marriage labelled the ruling an attack on traditional values and MP Wayne Furbert said he was “deeply considering” re-tabling an amendments to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, the news was applauded by the Rainbow Alliance and the Human Rights Commission.

News about the ruling has also made headlines internationally in LGBT news outlets, including Advocate.com, PinkNews, The Gay Times and The Gay UK.

And the decision was also celebrated by the US-based Human Rights Campaign. Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global, said in a statement: “When the LGBTQ community is facing violence and hate in places like Chechnya, [the] court decision in Bermuda is like a rainbow that finds its way through the rain clouds.

“We congratulate the plaintiffs and LGBTQ advocates who have bravely fought to bring marriage equality to the island of Bermuda.”