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UK MP calls for action over Partnership Act

A British politician has called on Boris Johnson, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, to prevent Bermuda from taking the “entirely retrograde step” of reversing marriage equality.

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, told the House of Commons last week that Bermuda's Parliament was “begging the foreign secretary to allow it to cancel same-sex marriage” just six months after the Supreme Court judgment which enabled gay weddings to take place.

He asked that Mr Johnson, who was not present in the Commons, come “to the House to explain his policy on Bermuda”.

Mr Bryant added: “Six couples have already been married, and they are to be unmarried, which surely even this Government must think is wrong. Will the minister make sure that the Government tell the Bermudan (sic) Parliament very firmly: ‘No way, we are sticking with same-sex marriage'?”

Mr Bryant's remarks on January 11 were made in reference to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, which was passed in Bermuda last month and is aimed at replacing same-sex marriage with civil unions.

John Rankin, the Governor, has yet to give assent to the bill to enable it to become law.

If he does, no further gay marriages will be allowed. Those that have already taken place, either in Bermuda since the May 2017 court judgment or, prior to that, elsewhere in the world, will still be deemed legal marriages on the island.

Asked for comment on Mr Bryant's remarks, a spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said yesterday: “The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and supports 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.”

Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, declined to comment, as did Mr Rankin.

A Government House spokesman said: “The Governor is considering the Bill in accordance with Section 35(2) of the Constitution. In considering the Bill, he has taken legal advice.”

Gay marriage became legal in the UK, apart from in Northern Ireland, in 2014. Previously, civil partnerships had been available since 2005 and couples in civil partnerships could convert those unions into legal marriages after a clause in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force.

Mr Bryant, a former Church of England priest, entered into a civil partnership in 2010.

As of December 20, 2017, eight gay couples had married in Bermuda.

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda

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Published January 17, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 23, 2018 at 4:17 pm)

UK MP calls for action over Partnership Act

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