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Bermuda laws sink gay wedding

A lesbian couple who were told they could not marry aboard a P&O Cruises luxury liner because of Bermuda’s marriage laws have been left crestfallen.

Jacqui Chapman and her partner were told that because the P&O ship is registered in Bermuda, the Island’s laws — including the prohibition of same-sex marriages — are applicable on board their ships.

A Government spokeswoman confirmed: “Ships that are registered in Bermuda must adhere to the laws of Bermuda which governs marriage ceremonies conducted aboard a ship.” Ms Chapman told Diva magazine that she had been travelling with the liner since 2001 and had planned to have her dream wedding aboard one of the ships in September, but now they were having to make alternative arrangements.

Ms Chapman told The Royal Gazette: “We were very disappointed when we heard. We had already booked a Caribbean cruise in November for 24 days and it would have been good to have our ceremony then.

“I have been on 30-plus cruises with P&O and feel irritated to say the least that while they are happy to accept our ‘pink pound’ they are unable to offer an equal service.

“I realise the difficulty is around the Bermudian law but it is unfair.

“They advertise ‘marriage on our cruise ships’, maybe at the bottom of their adverts contained in the small print it should say ‘does not apply to same-sex couples’.

“We have already booked four cruises with P&O over the next year and I guess I will continue to use this company as there are very few cruise lines that sail from Southampton (UK) but the whole thing leaves a very nasty taste.

“We have decided to have a small ceremony locally with a handful of invited guests, then lunch and cocktails in our favourite restaurant and then we are having a party for all our friends and family.”

Members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community reacted in anger via a thread on Diva’s website, including a CH Brighton who said: “Oh dear. Another country wiped from my list of places to visit and another company whose goods or services I shall not be purchasing, Bye bye Bermuda. So long P&O.”

According to Diva magazine, P&O’s Michele Andjel said: “We welcome all passengers on board. Unfortunately, Bermuda law prohibits us from conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies, but we can certainly offer same-sex vow renewals on board carried out by the captain.”

Other cruise ships that are registered in Bermuda include Princess Cruises and Cunard Cruises.