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Dallas urges gay tourists not to boycott

The chief executive of the island's tourism authority said he would not have moved back to Bermuda unless he was sure he and his same-sex partner would be welcomed.

Kevin Dallas also defended Bermuda's track record on human rights and pointed out that the island was well ahead of other island jurisdictions in rights for LGBT people.

Mr Dallas said: “As a gay Bermudian, I feel pretty lucky to have been born here.”

He added: “I would not have moved back to Bermuda if I was not convinced it was a welcoming place where we can openly be ourselves.

“For that matter, I would not have moved back if Bermuda did not have immigration rights for my same-sex partner.

“Some of the stories of what it's like to be gay in Bermuda in The Advocate and on The Huffington Post are by people who haven't lived in Bermuda for 30 or 40 years.

“I think we all have horror stories of what the world was like 30 or 40 years ago.”

He added: “Bermuda today is not the Bermuda I grew up in. It may not have been a place I wanted to live.”

Mr Dallas, the chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, was speaking in an interview with tourism organisation Gay Star Travel.

He said he was disappointed by last December's reversal of same-sex marriage in Bermuda — but that the Domestic Partnership Act that replaced marriage did give more rights to same-sex couples.

Mr Dallas added: “However, I would say that it was personally complicated for me, because my partner and I were civil-unioned in the UK.

“For us, the Domestic Partnership Act actually means new rights we didn't have before.

“So on the one hand, I was personally disappointed that something was taken away. On the other, pragmatically, this law leaves my partner and I in a better place.”

Mr Dallas argued that despite the negative international headlines sparked by the axing of same-sex marriage, Bermuda remained a tolerant place.

He said: “As a gay Bermudian, I feel pretty lucky to have been born here and not the many other places where LGBT travellers go looking for a Bermuda-like experience.

“Despite this more recent setback, Bermuda's track record on advancing LGBT rights in the last 20 years is pretty good.

“We won same-sex partner immigration rights, we won same-sex partner adoption rights.

“Gays and lesbians can serve in our military. We have no ban on transsexuals like President [Donald] Trump is trying to force in the US and the Domestic Partnership Act gives us civil rights of marriage.

“It's short of what we want. However, if you take the emotion out of it, and you compare Bermuda to most other island nations, Bermuda actually has a pretty progressive track record.”

Mr Dallas also dismissed calls for LGBT tourists to boycott the island in the wake of Parliament's decision to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships.

He said: “Personally, in my career as an out professional in the US and more recently in London, I've found nothing makes a bigger difference to win hearts and minds than being present and visible.

“To my mind, the idea that LGBT people and supporters of equality would stay away from Bermuda and stay out of the debate would be highly counter-intuitive to what people are trying to achieve.”

Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published April 12, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated April 12, 2018 at 7:36 am)

Dallas urges gay tourists not to boycott

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