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Preserve Marriage not on latest charities list

Preserve Marriage's name is not on the latest list of registered charities.

The organisation, which campaigns against same-sex marriage and civil unions, applied to have its charitable status renewed earlier this year, as it was due to expire on April 6.

Those responsible for deciding on status applications — Registrar-General Aubrey Pennyman and the Charity Commissioners — have since refused to comment on whether Preserve Marriage was successful or whether any objections to its application were received, after repeated requests from The Royal Gazette.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said on April 27: “The Registrar-General will not be commenting on any organisation's application for status.”

Charity Commissioners chairman Richard Ambrosio also declined to comment.

Applications for status renewal are considered by the Charity Commissioners and they make recommendations to the Registrar, who makes the final decision.

The Royal Gazette understands, as previously reported, that the committee failed to reach a decision on Preserve Marriage at a meeting in early April and was to look again at the application at its next meeting, around April 18.

It is not known if the commissioners were unable to reach a decision at the second meeting or if they made a recommendation which has yet to be approved by Mr Pennyman.

The Charities Act 2014 gives the public the right to inspect, at all reasonable times, the charities' register, statements of accounts from charities and their annual reports. Yesterday, following a request from this newspaper, the Ministry spokeswoman shared the most recent list of Bermuda's registered charitable organisations, dated April 6.

Preserve Marriage's name does not appear but that may not mean the organisation has lost its status.

The name of OutBermuda, a group which promotes equality for the island's LGBT community, is also not on the latest list but it does have charitable status.

OutBermuda's certificate of registration was signed on behalf of the Registrar on April 7, a day after the list was published.

Preserve Marriage may have had its status renewed since April 6.

But if it has not been given a decision yet, the law allows charities who apply for renewal at least one month before their status expires to continue operating as a charity until their application is decided by the Registrar.

Earlier this week, Mr Pennyman warned the public about the illegal soliciting of money for charitable causes by those not registered to do so.

The Registrar said in a press release: “The public should be aware that our office frequently receives requests from prospective donors, businesses, banks and event venues to confirm if an organisation is a registered charity.

“The Charities Act 2014 states that it is an offence for a person, other than a registered charity or person acting on behalf of such charity, to solicit members of the public for or receive from any member of the public in any public place, a donation for any charitable purpose or for any professed purpose which is otherwise benevolent.

“The exception is a person who has been issued a temporary fundraising licence by the Registrar-General. Persons who do not wish to obtain a temporary fundraising licence may enlist the assistance of a registered charity to engage in public fundraising on their behalf.

“Internet or online sites for fundraising for a charitable or benevolent purpose in Bermuda may also require a temporary fundraising license or charitable status.”

The Registrar said those who needed to should apply for a temporary fundraising license by picking up a form from his office in the Government Administration Building on Parliament Street in Hamilton. The number to call is 297-7739.

At the start of 2016, before it became a charity, Preserve Marriage removed an online appeal for campaign funds after a request from the Charity Commissioners.

It then applied successfully for charitable status, despite 31 letters of objection from members of the public.

The organisation did not respond to an e-mail request for comment yesterday.

A Preserve Marriage demonstration (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 04, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 04, 2017 at 5:33 pm)

Preserve Marriage not on latest charities list

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