Outrage as UK Court blocks same-sex marriage for Bermuda and Cayman islands

15 March 2022, 13:33 | Updated: 16 March 2022, 11:18

A ban of same-sex marriage in Bermuda is constitutional, a UK Court has ruled.
A ban of same-sex marriage in Bermuda is constitutional, a UK Court has ruled. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The ban on same-sex marriages in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands has been upheld as constitutional, judges in the UK have ruled.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Activists supporting same-sex marriages in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda received a heavy blow after the UK's Privy Council sided with the government of Bermuda.

The Privy Council, which serves as the final court of appeals for several islands in the Caribbean, upheld the ban in a ruling on Monday.

It reached the Privy Council after the Bermuda government fought a local Supreme Court's decision to allow gay marriage.

Read more: Methodist Church to allow same-sex marriages to take place in 'momentous step'

Read more: 'I voted against love': Nadine Dorries shares regret voting against gay marriage

One of five judges in the Bermuda case dissented.

British judges, Lords Reed and Hodge, Lady Arden and Dame Victoria Sharp, backed the ban.

Lord Sales was the only judge to dissent.

In May 2017, the island's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal, but the party that won the general election months later rejected that ruling and allowed only domestic partnerships.

One senator said during the debate at the time: "Society largely does not support same-sex marriage nor is it prepared to accept it at this time."

The issue bounced through various courts until it reached the Privy Council.

British judges have ruled that Bermuda’s ban on same-sex marriage is permitted

Local activist, Leonardo Raznovich, said he plans to fight the Privy Council's decision to uphold the ban.

He told the Associated Press he was "in shock" and described the ruling as an "affront to human dignity".

The Privy Council acknowledged that the historical background of marriage is "one of the stigmatisation, denigration and victimisation of gay people, and that the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples may create among gay people a sense of exclusion and stigma".

However, it said that "international instruments and other countries' constitutions cannot be used to read into (Bermuda's constitution) a right to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage".

Billie Bryan, founder and president of Colours Cayman, an advocacy group supporting the LGBTQ community, said the Privy Council has "done nothing more than reassert the oppressive political environment of yesteryear".

The London judges also ruled unanimously that gay people do not have the right to marry in the Cayman Islands based on its constitution.

Caribbean activists had hoped for a favourable ruling to help sway public opinion in a largely conservative region where colonial anti-sodomy laws remain on the books and same-sex marriage is rarely considered a right.

However, judges wrote that "the effect of the board's interpretation is that this is a matter of choice for the legislative assembly rather than a right laid down in the constitution".

The Cayman Islands case reached the Privy Council after two women - Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush - were denied a marriage licence in 2018.

Read more: UK 'leads the charge' in demonising trans people, Natasha Devon declares

The couple went to court, and in March 2019, the Cayman Grand Court ruled in their favour after stating that the denial violated the law.

Months later, a local appeals court overturned the decision, stating that the Cayman constitution does not allow for same-sex marriage.

However, it ordered the government to provide the women with a legal status equivalent to marriage.

Mr Raznovich said that did not happen, and so the legal team sought a ruling from the Privy Council in London.

The case has riled some in the Cayman Islands, where several legislators accused of being homophobic sought to have Mr Raznovich deported several years ago.

While the British territory of nearly 70,000 people is considered to be socially conservative, Mr Raznovich noted that the premier gave a speech last year during the gay pride parade.

"(It) was historical," he said.

"That has to be highlighted as a great step in the right direction."

However, he and Bryan noted that much work remains to be done, and that the premier's actions were not necessarily representative of the island's government.

"I think people are more receptive to what we're trying to achieve, but there's still a lot of stigma," Bryan said.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Police clash with a group of 'far right' people in London for a St George's Day event

Violent clash breaks out as 'far-right' groups descend on London for St George’s Day march

Rishi Sunak says the election will take place in the second half of the year

Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out July election after Rwanda bill passes

Temperatures are expected to heat up by the start of May

Exact date Brits to bask in first 'official heatwave of the year' as temperatures to soar above 20C

Activists help migrants to pack their belongings in a makeshift camp in Paris

Police clear migrant camp in central Paris in pre-Olympics sweep, say aid groups

The embassy of China in Berlin

German EU politician’s aide arrested on suspicion of spying for China

Donald Trump

‘Catch and kill’ to be described to jurors in Trump’s hush money trial

The basement area is available for £5,000 - but hasn't been excavated yet

'Basement area' for sale in south London for just £5,000 - but you have to excavate the property yourself

Bosnian police arrest a suspect

Bosnia police arrest 23 suspected of being part of drug kingpin’s ‘inner circle’

Exclusive
Rishi Sunak is visting Poland

Rishi Sunak defends British RAF planes shooting down drones over Israel but not Ukraine

The Princess of Wales has released a picture of Prince Louis to mark his 6th Birthday

"Happy 6th Birthday, Prince Louis!" Kate shares her adorable birthday snap of young Prince

Dangerous people smuggling gangs are "pushing people out to sea" to their deaths, Rishi Sunak said

Smuggling gangs 'pushing people out to sea' to their deaths, PM says - as French police share photos of flimsy boats

Two people have been arrested

Time to pay the bill: Two arrests in hunt for prolific 'dine-and-dash couple' after £329 bill left unpaid at restaurant

People look at fragments of the television tower which was hit by a Russian missile in Kharkiv

Russian strike on Kharkiv TV tower part of intimidation campaign, says Zelensky

Jeremy Paxman

Jeremy Paxman 'considered assisted dying at Dignitas' amid Parkinson's struggle

Nancy Gonzalez was sentenced to 18 months in jail on Monday

Celebrity fashion designer jailed for smuggling protected wildlife handbags into US

Foods have been locked up in supermarkets across the country

Tesco locks £4.85 salmon fillets in plastic security boxes to prevent shoplifting as cases surges across the country