United Kingdom disappointed after Bermuda abolishes same-sex marriage

The flag of Bermuda flies along the commercial and retail district on Front Street

"This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda's worldwide reputation and economy".

It followed a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in May 2017, when Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that the islands Registrar-General could not reject a gay couples application to marry in Bermuda.

The island's supreme court ruled previous year that such marriages must be recognized, though the measure approved by the legislature in December allows only domestic partnerships instead of same-sex marriage.

Worldwide human rights groups such as the LGBT-focused Human Rights Campaign had condemned the move, which it said "unconscionably ripped away the right of loving same-sex couples in Bermuda to marry".

"About a half-dozen" same-sex couples married during the window that it was legal, and those marriages will continue to be recognized under the new law, the wire service reports.

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And Lib Dem Jamie Stone said he was "stunned" that Johnson did not think protecting the rights of gay people in Bermuda was an "exceptional case" worthy of his intervention. She said: "When it comes to the rights of British citizens there should be no such thing as a balancing act".

British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said Thursday that Britain was "seriously disappointed" by the legal change.

"But that Bill has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government".

The Human Rights Campaign Global complained the new law strips same-sex Bermudian couples of the right to marry. Also, any overseas same sex marriages taking place before and during the transitional period will also be capable of recognition as marriages in Bermuda.

In a statement, the president of the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD called the news "unjust and hurtful".

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The government has come under cross-party pressure to explain why it gave permission for Bermuda to repeal same-sex marriage rights, after the British territory became the first place in the world to make such a move.

The Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality in May 2017 was celebrated by the small gay community, but it also outraged many on the socially conservative island, including church leaders, and thousands protested outside parliament.

The Guardian quoted Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown as saying that the legislation constitutes a compromise between the recognition of same-sex couples and the will of the majority, who overwhelmingly voted against gay marriage in the 2016 referendum.

But LGBTQ civil rights groups said the unprecedented decision gave same-sex couples second-class status.

Now, less than a year later, the island-nation's Governor John Rankin just signed a Bermuda gay marriage repeal replacing same-sex marriages with "domestic partnerships" which can be entered into by both different-sex and same-sex couples.

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