Christian bigots force Bermuda to abandon same-sex marriage

Christian bigots force Bermuda to abandon same-sex marriage February 9, 2018

IN AN astonishing about-turn, Bermuda – a British Overseas Territory – voted last December 13 to reverse gay marriage legislation just six months after the Supreme Court ordered the introduction same-sex unions. The Government replaced it with a Domestic Partnership Bill.
Reporting on this reversal for  the winter issue of the Pink Humanist, I pointed out that pressure had been put on lawmakers by anti-gay outfit called Preserve Marriage Bermuda (PMD), headed by fundamentalist Christian Dr Melvyn Bassett.

Dr Melvyn Bassett
After the introduction of gay marriage PMD said in a statement that it would:
Continue its relentless efforts to reverse the recent court decision that allows for same-sex marriages to be performed in Bermuda and plans to keep its many thousands of supporters informed of the progress of its efforts.
The Domestic Partnership Bill, passed through Parliament by votes of 8–3 and 24–10, abolished same-sex marriage, while extending a lesser form of civil partnership to gay people.
In a PinkNews report, Rod Attride-Stirling, a lawyer who worked on the same-sex marriage legislation, spoke against the Domestic Partnership Act.

There is lawful same-sex marriage in Bermuda and there have been several marriages, so the Government is taking away a right that exists.
The fact that no country in the world has ever done this should give us pause. We will look foolish and oppressive, at a time when we can ill-afford this, in the light of everything going on and the spotlight shining on us for other reasons.

However, at the time of my writing for the Pink Humanist (January 28, 2018), the legislation had not passed into law because the Governor of Bermuda, John Rankin, above, had still not signed it.
But yesterday Rankin did sign the Domestic Partnership Bill into law, according to LGBT Nation.
According to a Cayman News Service report, the UK’s Overseas Territories Minister, Lord Ahmad, told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee earlier in January that the reversal was of “deep concern to us” as the British Government remains committed to same-sex marriage as a human right.
Lord Ahmad said that he had raised the issue directly with Bermuda’s premier when they met just after the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meeting and that:

They know of our deep concern in this respect.

He said Britain was:

Clear where we stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it is the human right of any individual to have that right. That point has been made in no uncertain terms to the premier and he is aware of the British government’s position on that.

Last December, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said:

The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and continues to support same-sex marriage. While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law.

Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), warned in a letter that the law could have crippling consequences for the territory’s tourism industry. Luxury tourism is one of the main sources of income for Bermuda, alongside financial services for international firms.
Dallas said:

We feel compelled to express our concern about what the negative consequences could be for tourism if the Domestic Partnership Bill passes the Senate this week. We believe the Bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry.

His letter warned:

Same sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage.
We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda.
While we cannot responsibly estimate what the scale of those losses will be, we can point to contemporary examples that tell a cautionary tale.

The letter cited controversies in the US when Republican leaders in North Carolina and Indiana attempted to roll back LGBT rights, only to face boycotts from business.
The letter continued:

At the Bermuda Tourism Authority, we work hard to keep our research and commentary on this issue restricted to economics. That’s our line. The consumer economics of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travel are this: $165 billion spent worldwide per year, $65 billion of that is spent in the United States alone.
The Bermuda tourism economy, and the workers and businesses who make it thrive, deserve their fair share of the LGBT market as we all continue the uphill climb toward tourism resurgence.
Significantly, it’s not only LGBT travelers that care about equal rights based on sexual orientation. Our research indicates many companies, consumers and travelers, including the overwhelming majority of the younger visitors powering Bermuda’s growth, care about this issue. It’s why the fallout in North Carolina and Indiana has proven so detrimental.
While it’s not possible to project the precise ramifications of a yes vote for Bermuda, we are confident the impact will be negative. Ominous headlines signal the hazards ahead.
The yet-to-be-written headlines could be damaging enough to derail the seven consecutive quarters of growth the Bermuda tourism industry has enjoyed dating back to January 2016.
Tourism workers are getting more hours on the job, visitors are spending more of their money on-island and entrepreneurs are flocking to the tourism economy because they sense a bright future of sustained growth. Let’s not jeopardise that growth.
We should send a message that Bermuda continually and permanently lives up to its well-earned reputation as a warm, friendly and welcoming destination.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (LGBT Nation report).
Editor’s Note: I would like to point out that the latest Pink Humanist has an interview with Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, who spoke to the Canadian Atheist last year after his cancer diagnosis.

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  • Rob Andrews

    I’m old enough to remember when homosexuality itself was a crime. And that’s in liberal California.(1970s). Now many nations allow same-sex marriage! Gay rights groups never even dreamed of this then!
    The world has come a long way in 45 years. Now one small setback doesn’t bother me too much. Our main problem is the Islamic countries.

  • John the Drunkard

    This ‘small’ setback represents an international expansion of fundamentalist power-grabbing. Vast resources of America money have pushed vicious anti-gay legislation all across Africa.
    Gay bashing is one of the easiest crowd-pleasers for a whole panoply of right-wing racist and nationalist trolls. That they can pull this off in an Anglophone country is pretty chilling.

  • L.Long

    OK! Have the gov’mint get out of marriage! Let the church oppress their women all they like! Those who want legal and protected ‘marriage’ can get a civil marriage that is then protected as present marriages are. and any future ‘religious marriages’ are a male free for all! Civil marriages were started because religions kicked the crap out of women and marriages were then state controlled to protect women & children. If religious bigots want state protections they can get their st00pid religious marriages AND also sign civil partnerships.

  • Stuart H.

    Sadly, it’s not just Bermuda, rampant homophobia is the norm in the overwhelming majority of UK Commonwealth countries.
    I remember looking at an Amnesty International report into worldwide homophobia a year or two back and, out of interest, checked the commonwealth countries and couldn’t find any comparable block of countries or former empire where it was so bad.
    And remember, only reason things changed in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Channel Isles & Isle of Man in early 1990’s was that Westminster was under pressure to conform to ECHR standards.
    There’s a body called the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which has annual conferences where they’re supposed to tackle such issues, but in my experience the reps from UK and dependencies prefer to treat it as a state-funded piss-up in warmer climes, and the Aussies and New Zealanders are just as bad. Only the Canadians amongst the ‘liberal’ countries seem to be prepared to have a go at any serious talking, and with everything from economics to health care and policing to cover they can’t do it all.

  • Terry

    Commonwealth. What a specious label for a group of countries still under the thrall of their imperialist conquerors. The one thing they don’t have in common is wealth in the hands of the common people. The same trick is pulled by renaming the Hanoverian Battenburg clan as the English sounding Mountbatten. How cheap and nasty. Mind you the British Royals have been so inbred it was not sustainable without the horse breeding technique of bringing in new genetic material in the form of a young physically attractive but bimbonically airhead female dam. And it continues today with the latest import of a glamorous American divorcee. The whole house is a degenerate immoral cartel. But how fitting that it’s head is the CoE of the Anglican Church. And I wonder how many of the Royals have been or are homosexuals? It may be true that the Windsors were so worried by Charlie’s apparent indifference to women forced them to pair him up with some unsuspecting gold digger with a minor title. Jazz it up with an appallingly tasteless glam fest wedding replete with celebs and ‘world leaders’. That should do the trick. That went well did it not.

  • Broga

    Terry: I enjoyed your polemic. It speaks to my condition as the Quakers say.

  • Henri

    The church led criminalisation of homosexuality has been rightly undone by secular forces. But the latent pious bigotry persists and can flare up at any time when the godly, by underhand means, feel strong enough to get their way. Therein lies the nastiness and hatred of religions. And what terrible damage the criminalisation of homosexuality done. What better way to blackmail and subvert people. Until recently it was the chosen weapon of security agencies to force homosexuals into espionage … Blunt, Philby, Burgess McClean et. al. And the world was robbed of genius … Alan Turing. How much more advanced would our scientific understanding be if he had not been hounded ruthlessly by the authorities for the ‘sin’of being gay. What a way to reward a man who shortened the war by years, saved millions of lives, and was instrumental in crushing facism. This is what religious dogma delivers. Beggary, bigotry, discrimination, retardation and strife. And yet the mindless agents of god continue to inflict their idiot beliefs on everyone. If only they could humbly shut the fuck up and be godly in private. Lets just say that its an undeniable truth that being a christian is sinful for it empowers those who want to exert their control of those who don’t want or need it.

  • John

    Bermuda LGBT activists need to target those legislators who voted for this weakening of their rights and campaign against them at election time.
    It is the only thing parliamentarians understand: raw vote power!

  • George Broadhead

    Stuart H writes:
    “Sadly, it’s not just Bermuda, rampant homophobia is the norm in the overwhelming majority of UK Commonwealth countries.”
    Details about this can be found in a report by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in the latest issue of the Pink Humanist:

  • Toukolaakso

    Guess there won’t be gay honeymooning in Bermuda anytime soon. Bermuda’s Governor John Rankin signed a repeal on marriage equality that strips same-sex Bermudan couples of the right to marry. “Governor Rankin and the Bermuda Parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality,” said Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global. “Despite this deplorable action, the fight for marriage equality in Bermuda will continue until the day when every Bermudian is afforded the right to marry the person they love. ” The Bermuda Tourism Authority also had some choice words for the Governer.   “Significantly, it’s not only LGBT travelers that care about equal rights based on sexual orientation. Our research indicates many companies, consumers and travelers, including the overwhelming majority of the younger visitors powering Bermuda’s growth, care about this issue,” the Tourism Authority said in a letter. Since Bermuda, which has a long history of homophobia, just killed its reputation among not just LGBTQ travelers but all travelers with a conscience, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of some island life destinations that welcome us–and marriage equality. Bondi Beach (North Side) Last year Australia’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage, overcoming years of conservative resistance. Platja De La Bassa Rodona The push for legalized same-sex marriage in Spain largely began in 2004.