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Bermuda legalizes same-sex marriage in landmark Supreme Court case

Bermuda legalizes same-sex marriage in landmark Supreme Court case

Bermuda couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche

Bermuda legalized same-sex marriage yesterday (5 May) after a long and arduous Supreme Court case.

Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche fought for the right to be married on the British island territory.

The Registrar-General rejected their application to be married on the island, so they took their fight to the top court, arguing that the Human Rights Act took primacy in Bermuda.

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said in the ruling: The current marriage act is ‘inconsistent with the provisions of the Human Rights Act as they constitute deliberate different treatment on the basis of sexual orientation,’ reports the Royal Gazette.

She believes the law ‘discriminates against same-sex couples by excluding them from marriage.’

She added: ‘The applicants are entitled to an Order of Mandamus compelling the Registrar to act in accordance with the requirements of the Marriage Act and a Declaration that same-sex couples are entitled to be married under the Marriage Act 1944.

After the court’s decision, the couple announced they will be resubmitting their marriage application ‘within days.’

Godwin said: ‘The ruling today is more than me and pieces of paper. It’s more than any of that, it is what it means for Bermuda moving forward.

‘Now we can begin to fix some of these issues.

People are going to have their opinions about this and that is OK. I am not here to change people’s opinions or how they think.

‘I just want them to respect me and my relationship and my marriage that will happen here.

‘Hopefully, this brings forward hope and courage for those who were or are afraid to speak up or come out.

‘This is a moment we… will never forget,’ Godwin said.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda was ‘overwhelmed with joy’ at the ruling.

In a statement, they said: ‘We applaud the landmark decision by Justice Charles Etta-Simmons.

‘Today, history has been made and also love has won,’ said the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda.

The new law will start immediately.

Bermuda rejects same-sex marriage

In June last year, Bermuda overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriage in a public vote.

69% voted against same-sex marriage with 31% in favor.

However, 20,804 of the 44,367 registered voters made their voice heard in the referendum. As this is below the 50% requirement, this means the referendum is invalid.

Bermuda has made advances on LGBTI rights in recent years such as the decriminalization of consensual sex between men in 1994.

It is also illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but not on the basis of gender identity.