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March 2022: Campaign to save same sex marriage ends in defeat

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Police today said that divers had found the body of a man in a white van they were trying to find as they searched for missing former MP Darius Tucker. Pictured- Assistant Commissioner Antoine Daniels (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The lengthy legal campaign by same sex marriage advocates to overturn a ban on the unions ended in defeat when Bermuda’s highest court ruled the ban by Parliament was constitutional.

Campaigners vowed to continue to fight the legislation, which made civil unions legal but defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, notwithstanding any provisions of the Human Rights Act.

Four out of five members of London’s Privy Council agreed with the ruling with one Law Lord dissenting. It marked the end of more than six-year legal battle.

OUT Bermuda at Hamilton Princess Marina. Pictured- Roderick Ferguson (left) and Adrian Hartnett-Beasley (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Same sex marriage campaigners vowed to continue the fight, but it seemed likely that the campaign would have to be won in Parliament rather than the courts. It was later revealed that more than $410,000 was spent on outside lawyers and legal fees for the various same-sex marriage court cases.

March also saw the triggering of a new constitutional battle when the 2022 Cannabis Licensing Act, which provides a regulative framework for growing and selling the drug, was passed in the House of Assembly. The Bill passed 18 votes to six. All OBA MPs voted against it and 12 PLP MPs did not vote.

The Act passed in the lower house last year, but was rejected by the Senate. When it was presented again this year, senators were split, but could not delay the bill any longer.

After its passing, Premier David Burt said that if the proposal did not get Royal Assent from Governor Rena Lalgie, it would “destroy” Bermuda’s relationship with Great Britain.

A Government House spokeswoman said that the Governor can withhold Royal Assent “if she considers the Bill to be inconsistent with the UK’s international obligations, in this instance, the United Nations’ convention on drugs”.

In September, in one of her last acts before her short-lived tenure as UK prime minister began, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss determined the Bill did breach the UK’s treaty obligations and withheld assent.

That decision appeared to push the Government towards beginning to explore Independence in its Throne Speech in November.

March also saw the untimely death of a former politician, as well as the first three road fatalities of the year.

Darius Tucker was found dead inside his van, which was immersed in the water off Marginal Wharf, St David’s.

Mr Tucker was elected as an MP for the United Bermuda Party in 2007, but crossed the floor in 2011. He had been reported missing on March 6 and was found by police divers three days later. Foul play was not suspected in his death.

Taz Jerome Paul Boyles (Photograph supplied)

A young boy drowned when a car plunged into the sea by Shark Hole Hill, Hamilton Parish.

People at the scene acted quickly and saved the vehicle’s driver and an older child, but were unable to unstrap the infant, Taz Boyles, from his seat in time. The car was completely submerged underwater.

The driver and the older child received non-life threatening injuries from the accident, but Taz was later pronounced dead at the hospital. He was 11 months old and less than one week away from celebrating his first birthday.

Del Hollis, one of the rescuers, said: “Once I got my diving mask I ended up going back down into the water. I was able to see the kid but I just could not get him out of the seat. A guy just went down there, took a knife and cut the strap and got the baby out.

“We tried everything, we done everything. We could not do nothing.”

Hannah Jiminez-Flood, 42, was involved in a single-vehicle car accident on Beacon Hill Road, Sandys on March 25 and died from her injuries. Hours later, 51-year-old Wayne Augustus lost his life after a bike crash near Church Bay, Southampton.

A man and a woman were injured during a shooting at the Devonshire Recreation Club.

A police spokeswoman said: “It is believed that around 30 to 50 people were in attendance at the club when two suspects rode onto the premises and fired several rounds at persons in attendance.”

The two injured people were taken to the hospital and had non-life threatening injuries. No one has yet been charged for the shooting.

The month ended with the sudden departure of national security minister Renée Ming, who served in the role since July 2020. Ms Ming said that she resigned from the ministry, but the Premier said that he had asked Ms Lalgie to “revoke her appointment.” Ms Ming was replaced by Michael Weeks in early April.

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Published January 01, 2023 at 7:49 am (Updated December 30, 2022 at 12:35 pm)

March 2022: Campaign to save same sex marriage ends in defeat

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