UK MPs to discuss Bermuda’s decision to ditch same-sex marriage
Bermuda’s marriage equality controversy is expected to feature in a debate in the UK’s House of Commons.
Crispin Blunt, a Conservative backbencher, has secured a parliamentary slot for a discussion of LGBT rights in Britain’s Overseas Territories.
Mr Blunt’s move came after ruling by the Privy Council, Bermuda’s final court of appeal, that upheld a Progressive Labour Party ban on same-sex marriage.
The discussion will be held in Westminster Hall, next to the main House of Commons chamber, on April 19.
Mr Blunt is a former chairman of the influential Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
Bermuda was forced into the international spotlight — and a storm of criticism — after it became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage then ban it again.
The decision to restore the marriage equality ban attracted widespread coverage in Britain and the United States, countries where same-sex unions have been legal for several years.
Peter Tatchell, a British human rights campaigner, has pledged to lead protests at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, against the stand by David Burt, the Premier, against equal rights to marriage.
Mr Tatchell said that British political circles were “shocked and dismayed” at the Privy Council’s decision to uphold the Bermuda ban on same-sex marriages.
He earlier told The Royal Gazette that the Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held between July 28 and August 8, would see demonstrations against Bermuda’s “homophobic” government, as well as against other countries that discriminated against LGBT people taking part in the international sports event.
Mr Tatchell said: “Britain has backed a homophobic government in Bermuda.
“Any government that doesn’t support the rights of LGBTQ people is homophobic.”
Mr Tatchell also hit out at Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and home affairs minister, who insisted that domestic partnerships and civil marriage were “virtually equal”.
Mr Tatchell 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 has been praised in the past for direct action against dictators such as Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, and for his condemnation of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
Four out of five judges on a Privy Council panel last month agreed with the Attorney-General of Bermuda and ruled that the Domestic Partnership Act was not against the Constitution.
Lord Sales, who dissented, said that he would have dismissed the government appeal based on a freedom of conscience argument put forward by lawyers for the respondents, Roderick Ferguson and others.
The Government has admitted it has spent $411,627 on external lawyers and law firms on a string of same-sex marriage court cases.