The Top Court of Appeals in Bermuda ruled that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional on Friday. The decision follows a long battle for marriage and LGBTQ+ equality in Bermuda and is expected to be challenged by the Bermuda government.
Same-sex marriage was first addressed seriously by the Bermuda government in June 2016, when the territory held a non-binding referendum regarding its legalization. Less than 50% of the population showed up, but 70% of voters voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage. Soon after the referendum, in May 2017, a same-sex marriage case made its way to the Supreme Court of Bermuda.
The Bermuda Supreme Court found that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional; thereby legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the territory. In December 2017, the Bermuda governor and local government reversed the decision and reinstated the ban. While the repeal still allowed for same-sex couples to have a domestic partnership, it banned all same-sex marriages. The United Kingdom government strongly condemned the repeal, but had no jurisdiction on the matter and could not overturn the Bermuda government’s actions.
However, the Bermuda Supreme Court overturned the new ban on same-sex marriage in June 2018. Following a challenge from the Bermuda government, the top Bermuda Court of Appeals ruled with the Supreme Court. Unless the Bermuda government successfully challenges same-sex marriage in the UK’s Privy Council, same-sex marriage will remain legal in Bermuda. However, as Reuters found, it is incredibly rare that the Privy Council will hear a case from Bermuda and the possibility that it would overturn same-sex marriage is even more unlikely.
LGBTQ+ Bermudans are rejoicing at their new step towards equality. The Bermuda government must decide if they will appeal to the Privy Council within 21 days.
Media Resources: HuffPost 11/24/18