HAMILTON, Bermuda, Friday May 5, 2017 – A gay couple and the wider LGBT community in Bermuda is celebrating a victory after a High Court today ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in that island.
In fact, the judge ruled that not allowing same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Bermudian native Winston Godwin and his Canadian partner Greg DeRoche went to court to challenge the Registrar-General’s decision to reject their application to marry in Bermuda.
Their attorneys argued that the Human Rights Act took primacy in Bermuda and protected the couple’s right to marry.
Judge Charles-Etta Simmons agreed.
“The applicants were discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation when the Registrar refused to process their notice of intended marriage,” she ruled.
“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.”
Godwin, who was in Bermuda for the ruling, said the judge’s decision was “a big step in the right direction”.
“I cannot thank my legal team and my supporters enough…It has been a long time coming. This ruling, although it was in our favour…there is still so much more to do in Bermuda,” added the Bermudian who said that although DeRoche was in Canada at the time, he would join him soon to celebrate their victory.
The couple later issued a statement saying that they appreciated all the support they had received.
“This has been a long process, but well worth the fight. Hopefully this brings forward hope and courage for those who were/are afraid to speak up or come out. This is a moment we are proud of and will never forget,” they said.
And in a release issued after the ruling, LBGT group the Rainbow Alliance said it was “a victory for all same-gender loving people in Bermuda”.
“In this decision, the courts have affirmed that the love between two consenting adults is worth protecting with law, regardless of gender. This outcome ensures that same-gender couples can enjoy the same legal protections as heterosexual spouses do. This outcome preserves the notion that love is the greatest force of all,” it said.
The court decision comes a year after government held a referendum on whether same-sex civil unions or marriages should be allowed in Bermuda. Voters had rejected both options, but because of low voter turnout, the outcome was non-binding.