Date set for referendum on same-sex unions in Bermuda

Gay Marriage

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Thursday May 12, 2016 – In less than two months, registered voters in Bermuda will have their say on same-sex unions.

June 23 has been set as the date for a referendum on that issue, according to a Notice of Referendum issued by Premier Michael Dunkley yesterday.

The Nassau Guardian quoted Dunkley as saying that the results of the referendum would be “non-binding”.

According to him, the upcoming vote is “an opportunity for Government and for the people of Bermuda to expression their opinions on a very important subject”.

There will be two questions on the ballot papers: Are you in favour of same-sex marriage in Bermuda? Are you in favour of same-sex civil union in Bermuda?

Activists on both sides are expected to ramp up their campaigns over the coming weeks.

Registration for first-time voters or voters making changes to their existing registration details, will be open until May 18.

There had already been opposition from The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda and the Centre for Justice.

When Dunkley announced earlier this year that a vote would be held, the Rainbow Alliance condemned the move to have a referendum on marriage equality, saying that with many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Bermudians forced to leave home because of discrimination, “it is likely that a referendum will not have an accurate reflection of those that will be impacted by the decision.”

It said the proposed Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act 2016 would effectively legislate discrimination.

Referendum-Same-Sex-Relationships-Bill-2016

And the Centre of Justice had said that “while there are circumstances in which referenda can be utilized to enhance civic engagement and public participation in the democratic process, they are not appropriate for deciding questions that directly impact the fundamental human rights”.

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