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Campaigners taking referendum to court

The Centre for Justice is applying for judicial review of the same-sex marriage referendum.

The group believes the questions on the ballot paper for June 23 breach rights including equality of treatment and freedom of thought and religion, and give rise to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and family status.

It also fears the move could set a precedent, paving the way for more referendums to be called whenever the Bermuda Government is faced with difficult political issues.

“Centre for Justice is gravely concerned that this referendum is likely to set a dangerous precedent,” the Centre said in a statement.

“Unless the legality of such a referendum is carefully scrutinised by the court, the Government, whether in the form of current or future administrations, is likely to rely on the fact of this referendum as justification for holding future referendums whenever Government faces issues involving fundamental and individual human rights, simply because those issues might prove to be difficult politically, or unpopular with the majority of voters.”

At the referendum, voters will be asked whether they support same-sex marriage, and whether they are in favour of civil unions.

In its statement, the Centre also said it is concerned that six of the 12 polling stations, and the only polling station chosen for advanced polling, are church halls, noting that representatives of at least three of those churches have openly expressed opposition to same-sex unions in the past.

The Supreme Court granted leave on Monday for the Centre for Justice to apply for judicial review.