Human rights campaigner vows to hold Commonwealth Games protest over island’s SSM stance
The upcoming Commonwealth Games will be rocked by protests against the Government’s ban on marriage equality, a leading human rights campaigner has stated.
Peter Tatchell, who has been widely lauded for his direct action against dictators such as Robert Mugabe and his condemnation of Vladimir Putin, said that British political circles were “shocked and dismayed” at the Privy Council’s decision to uphold the ban on same-sex marriages.
The veteran campaigner stopped short of calling for a tourism boycott of the island, insisting that must be a decision made by Bermudian-based LGBTQ+ organisations — but said he knew people would shun the territory.
Mr Tatchell said the Commonwealth Games, due to be hosted in Birmingham, England, between July 28 and August 8, would see demonstrations against Bermuda’s “homophobic” government, as well as other countries that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community taking part in the sporting extravaganza.
Mr Tatchell condemned the stance of the Progressive Labour Party administration led by David Burt, the Premier.
He told The Royal Gazette: “Britain has backed a homophobic government in Bermuda.
“Any government that doesn’t support the rights of LGBTQ people is homophobic.”
Mr Tatchell was scathing about the claim made by Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, in the wake of the Privy Council ruling last week that domestic partnership and civil marriage were “virtually equal”.
The human rights campaigner said: “Separate laws are not equal laws — that is the logic of the apartheid government in South Africa because they legislated separate laws for Black and White people.
“This is outrageous for a supposedly democratic country in the 21st century.”
Mr Tatchell insisted homophobia was something the Commonwealth needed to deal with. He said there would be protests at the Birmingham games about the situation in Bermuda and dozens of other countries in the group of nations.
The campaigner said it was up to locally based LGBTQ+ to decide whether to urge a boycott of the island, but he knew people who would not now visit Bermuda.
He said: “I know lots of people in the UK and US will not be holidaying in Bermuda because of the territory’s opposition to marriage equality — they don’t want to spend their tourist dollars there.”
The comments came after a majority ruling by judges at Bermuda’s highest court of appeal, the Privy Council, found that legislation confining marriage to between a man and a woman was not unconstitutional.
Four out of five judges on a Privy Council panel agreed with the Attorney-General of Bermuda and ruled that the Domestic Partnership Act did not violate the Constitution.
Lord Sales reached a different conclusion to the majority and said that he would have dismissed the appeal based on a freedom-of-conscience argument put forward by lawyers for the respondents, who were Roderick Ferguson and others.
The Government revealed last month that $411,627 was spent on outside lawyers and law firms on the various same-sex marriage court cases.
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