November 23, 2018 at 10:31 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Top Bermuda court rules marriage repeal law unconstitutional
Bermuda, gay news, Washington Blade

Bermuda’s top court on Nov. 23, 2018, ruled a law that repealed marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British island territory is unconstitutional. (Photo by Mike Oropeza; via Wikimedia Commons)

Bermuda’s top court on Friday ruled a law that rescinded marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British island territory is unconstitutional.

The Domestic Partnership Act — which allows same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships as opposed to get married — took effect on June 1.

Bermuda Supreme Court Chief Justice Ian R. C. Kawaley five days later ruled the law is unconstitutional. The British island territory’s government appealed Kawaley’s decision to the Bermuda Court of Appeal.

Supreme Court Justice Charles-Etta Simmons in May 2017 issued a ruling that paved the way for gays and lesbians to legally marry in Bermuda. Governor John Rankin in February signed the Domestic Partnership Act into law after the Bermuda Parliament approved it.

Bermuda is the first jurisdiction in the world outside the U.S. to rescind marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Rankin’s decision to sign the Domestic Partnership Act sparked widespread criticism around the world. Linda Bogle-Mienzer, a long-time LGBTI activist in Bermuda who married their wife before the law took effect, and other advocates nevertheless rebuked calls to boycott the territory’s tourism industry.

Bogle-Mienzer praised Friday’s court ruling.

“It’s amazing that once again love wins, once again the rights of a marginalized group have been affirmed by the Court of Appeal,” Bogle-Mienzer told the Washington Blade. “It was the right thing to happen.”

The Royal Gazette, a Bermudian newspaper, reported the Bermudan government has 21 days to appeal Friday’s ruling to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which is the final appellate court for British territories. The Washington Post reported appeals to the judicial body are rare.

The Royal Gazette reported Friday’s ruling has gone into effect. It remains unclear whether the Bermuda government will appeal it to the Privy Council.

“I’m just excited once again to say finally, finally this matter is over,” Bogle-Mienzer told the Blade on Friday. “It should have been over a long time ago.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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