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Government standing firm on same sex marriage policy

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Bermuda’s first Pride parade in 2019 (Photograph by Fly High Media)

The Government will not rethink its stance opposing marriage equality after the Opposition signalled a major shift on the issue, a minister said.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, insisted the Progressive Labour Party was “sticking to” its line on same sex marriages.

The comments came after Cole Simons, One Bermuda Alliance leader, announced a change of direction in his party’s attitude to the issue.

He said that a future OBA government would make legislating for marriage equality a “priority”.

Asked if the move by the centre-right party to a more liberal position on the matter was cause for a PLP rethink, Colonel Burch told The Royal Gazette: “No. We have made a decision.

“We thought it through, and we decided and we made a decision.

“And we passed a law - that’s what we are sticking to.”

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Simons said he had taken a personal “journey” on the issue and now sees it as a human rights matter.

He told The Royal Gazette recently: “Marriage equality from my perspective – I think from a lot of people’s perspective – is a journey that people take.

“Because, I’ll be honest and say that in the beginning, I was not receptive to it.

“I have evolved over time. And, I think, most governments have evolved over time from the traditions that said ‘no, no, no’ to ‘you know what, they have rights, they have a right to partnership, a right to benefits’.

“So, I think our party has evolved and is receptive to going forward to full marriage equality.

“I would make it a priority in government because it is a human rights issue and it is such a part of society now we have to get on with it.”

Marriage equality was rejected in a 2016 referendum on a turn-out of 47 per cent.

However, a poll since then has shown a majority of voters are now in favour of the reform.

Bermuda’s ban on same-sex marriage has drawn international attention.

Same-sex marriage was made legal in Bermuda in 2017. But the law was reversed last year under the Domestic Partnership Act. That law only came into effect in March this year following a series of appeals that went all the way to the Privy Council in London.

To date, Bermuda is the only country in the world to make same-sex marriages legal – and then roll back the law to make it unlawful.

Privy Council judges found that the Domestic Partnership Act – which confined marriage to between a man and a woman – was not unconstitutional.

Mr Simons’ position shift follows in the wake of a rare bipartisan move in the US Congress to pass laws protecting marriage equality.

A large number of Republicans joined forces with Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives to back the measure.

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Published December 30, 2022 at 2:46 pm (Updated December 30, 2022 at 2:46 pm)

Government standing firm on same sex marriage policy

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