Politicians in Bermuda have voted to abolish same-sex marriage just months after it was legalised following a landmark Supreme Court ruling, the Royal Gazette reports.
Marriage equality has been dumped in favour of The Domestic Partnership Act of 2017—which grants some legal rights to same-sex couples but ensures those unions are defined differently from heterosexual marriages.
Progressive Labour Party backbencher Lawrence Scott supported the bill, saying that it gave “the LGBTQ community the benefits it has been asking for” while retaining “the traditional definition of marriage”.
“As it stands now, they can have the name marriage but without the benefits. But after this Bill passes, they have the benefits and just not the name marriage. The benefits are what they really want.”
Same-sex couples will now be unable to obtain marriage certificates, although the new law will not affect those who tied the knot in the last six months.
Jordan Sousa from Bermuda's Gay Straight Alliance told Yahoo News that the decision was a "national embarrassment turning Bermuda - who bills itself as a 21st-century place to do business - into a theocracy."
24 Bermudian members of Parliament voted in favour of the Act, while 10 refused to support the new bill.
Shadow home affairs minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said she could not support the changes to same-sex unions, “having given a community something only to take it away”.
“I don’t like to accept that it is OK for us to treat our sisters and brothers differently, whether fair or unfair, to treat them differently under similar circumstances.”
Home affairs minister Walton Brown said he introduced the bill because, otherwise, there would be a risk that same-sex marriage would have been banned altogether.
“We need to find a way in Bermuda to fully embrace greater rights for all members of the community,” Brown said.
“But the status quo will not stand. On the ground, the political reality is that if we do not lead we would have a private member’s bill tabled to outlaw same-sex marriage.
“That bill would pass because more than 18 MPs are opposed to same-sex marriage. If that bill passes same-sex couples have no rights whatsoever.
“This is tough for me. But I don’t shy away from tough decisions.”