On 23 November 2018, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Government’s appeal and upheld the previous Supreme Court ruling which allowed same sex marriage. The Court also ruled against the Government’s request for a 21-day stay of the decision while they decide whether or not to appeal to the Privy Council. In the meantime, same sex couples may marry. See Courts & Tribunals at [C2.9], [R2.8].
On 01 March 2018, home affairs minister Walton Brown reportedly revealed that same-sex couples will be able to marry until the end of May as the introduction of the Domestic Partnership Act had been delayed to 01 June to allow planned same-sex marriages in Bermuda, and on island-registered ships, to take place [R1.15].
On 07 February 2018, Governor John Rankin signed the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, replacing same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships [R1.14].
On 13 December, the Senate passed 8-3 the Domestic Partnership Act 2017. The Bill provides same-sex couples with a raft of legal rights but prevents any further same-sex marriages and reverses the Supreme Court ruling in May that permitted same-sex marriages. It must now be signed by the governor before it becomes law in the Atlantic ocean territory [R1.13].
On 08 December, the House of Assembly passed 24-10 the Domestic Partnership Act 2017. The Bill will provide same-sex couples with a raft of legal rights but prevent any further same-sex marriages. The legislation would not have retroactive affect on same-sex marriages after the Supreme Court ruling in the Godwin and DeRoche case against the Registrar-General [R1.12].
See 2. Courts & Tribunals below.
On 16 February 2018, Mark Pettingill, the lawyer representing expat Bermudian Roderick Ferguson reportedly filed a motion in the island’s Supreme Court to undo a new law banning same-sex marriage [R1.12].
On 03 November 2017, it was reported that the government had launched a new ‘Domestic Partnership Bill‘ for a two-week public consultation period concluding 15 November. Under the Bill existing same-sex couples would stay married, but new couples would only be able to enter segregated ‘partnerships’ [L1.11], [R1.10].
On 14 July 2016, the Senate was reported to have rejected 5-6 the Human Rights Amendment Act that sought to exclude the Matrimonial Causes Act 1974 (which provides that a marriage is void unless the parties are respectively male and female) from the overriding primacy of the Human Rights Act (that makes unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation as well as other attributes) [R1.9].
On 08 July 2016, the House of Assembly passed 20-10 a Bill to the effect that nothing in the Human Rights Act would override the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1974, which provides that marriages are void unless they are between a man and a woman [R1.8].
On 23 June 2016, Bermudians overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriages and civil unions. The final count, at around 4am 24 June, showed that 69 per cent of those who voted, or 14,192 people, opposed same-sex marriage, with 6,514 voting in favour. That means out of 44,367 registered voters, 31.99 per cent were against, with 14.68 per cent in favour. Meanwhile, 63 per cent voted against civil unions in the second question. That equates to 29.31 per cent of registered voters, with 17.19 per cent voting in favour [R1.7].
On 10 June 2016, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley refused the application by the Centre for Justice to stop the same-sex marriage ballot taking place on June 23 on the grounds that such a referendum would breach the constitution, the Human Rights Act and common law [R1.6].
On 11 May 2106, a formal notice was published in the Official Gazette confirming that the referendum on same-sex marriage and civil unions will be held on 23 June [R1.5].
On 15 April 2016, it was reported that Thursday 23 June 2016 will be the likely date for the same-sex marriage referendum. The two-question ballot – will ask whether voters are in favour of same-sex marriage and whether they are in favour of same-sex civil unions [R1.4].
On 11 March 2016, Premier Michael Dunkley, speaking at the House of Assembly, revealed that the same-sex marriage referendum will likely take place in mid-to-late June [R1.3].
On 29 February 2016, Premier Michael Dunkley, accompanied by Community and Culture Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin, told a media conference that a same-sex marriage referendum bill will be tabled in the House of Assembly ”this legislative session” [R1.2].
On 16 April 2015, it was reported that Jacqui Chapman and her partner were told that because a P&O ship is registered in Bermuda, the Island’s laws – including the prohibition of same-sex marriages – are applicable on board their ships [R1.1].