Same-sex rallies draw thousands
Thousands rallied behind same-sex union opponents Preserve Marriage yesterday outside Parliament, alongside a smaller peaceful demonstration by supporters of same-sex marriage.
Addressed by various speakers, the crowd reiterated calls for the Government to appeal the Supreme Court's decision permitting same-sex unions.
While the group's charitable status has been revoked, Preserve Marriage vowed to continue as a registered company with more than 500 members.
“We are not to be bullied into silence, and we want to encourage Bermuda to stand for marriage,” one speaker told the crowd, maintaining that the group had been hit with “hate speech and biased reporting”.
Crowds flocked to the grounds of the House of Assembly, with onlookers lining the streets, many carrying signs reading: “I am standing today for marriage to be between a man and a woman for Bermuda's next generation.”
The crowd also chanted: “One woman, one man, we need to take a stand.”
Other signs opposed to same-sex marriage visible at the demonstration included: “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” and “2 **** boy can't get married”.
Signs among supporters of the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda included: “Let's have the humility to leave the final judgment to God himself”, and “Love wins”.
Rainbow umbrellas and other rainbow-coloured items could also be seen.
Josh Correia, with the Rainbow Alliance, said that the larger demonstration opposed to same-sex marriage was reflective of public opinion.
“As much as I hate to say it, that's Bermuda,” he said.
Mr Correia said that while there is a larger LGBTQ-plus community than many realise on the island, many who identify aren't open about it.
“They don't want to be vilified, they don't want to be turned into a scapegoat by their community,” he said.
While the Supreme Court ruling was the “right thing”, Mr Correia said that attitudes take a long time to change.
“It's certainly not going to happen overnight, and it's definitely something we at the Rainbow Alliance will be working to help facilitate in the years to come.”
Stressing that all were entitled to make their views known, Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert told The Royal Gazette that the turnout yesterday sent a clear message.
“It makes it very clear that Bermudians want to ensure that marriage is defined [as] between a male and a female,” he added.
Mr Furbert has vowed to press ahead with his private members' Bill aimed at fortifying marriage when it comes up for debate in early July.
“This year is an election year — you better listen to us,” he said.
“If not, you decide whether or not you are going back to Parliament.”
As demonstrators dispersed at about 1.30pm, equal rights proponent Mark Anderson declared himself “very proud to stand here as a gay Bermudian — and proud that Bermuda is a democracy where we can deal with issues”.
While some interactions between demonstrators appeared heated, and others questioned why two counter-rallies had been allowed for the same location, civility seemed to prevail — although Mr Furbert said he had been dealt some abusive remarks. Police were on hand to monitor the demonstrations and assist with traffic.
A Bermuda Police Service spokesman thanked the motoring public for their patience and co-operation during the event, which apparently occurred without incident.