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Campaigners welcome gay rights vote result

Gay rights campaigners in Bermuda have welcomed the British Parliament’s overwhelming vote in support of legalising gay marriage.

British MPs yesterday backed a draft law on the issue by 400 votes to 175. The legislation, which would come into effect next year, is still several stages away from becoming law.

“[We] are encouraged by the UK Parliament’s support of the legalisation of gay marriage,” The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said last night. “We hasten to add, however, that this is not the end of the struggle for equality.”

“The LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community continues to be a marginalised and oppressed group in Bermuda and around the world. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda supports any efforts to expand the rights and recognition of LGBTQ people in the law and the broader community.”

Bermudian campaigner and DJ, Valentino Tear, who lived in England until recently, said: “The news about the British vote is amazing. I think it’s a wonderful, monumental moment in politics. Legalising marriage validates a person’s existence and relationship more than people can understand.”

Mr Tear said he knew from personal experience that those involved in LGBTQ relationships that break down can find themselves cut adrift financially and without any legal protection.

“I believe that to save people being taken advantage of in our community, it would be very responsible for Bermuda to accept gay marriage across the board. There’s so many details that affect a person’s life beyond the wedding ring,” he explained.

The British gay marriage vote has lead to rifts within Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party and growing talk of a leadership challenge.

The previous Progressive Labour Party Government in Bermuda had refused to countenance the notion of same-sex marriage.

Minister of Youth, Families and Sports Glenn Blakeney said last September that he backed the idea of extending equality legislation to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

However, he told The Royal Gazette: “I’m almost certain the majority of Bermudians are not ready, nor will they ever be ready, to accept the compromising of the institution of marriage as we know it to accept same sex marriage or civil union in Bermuda. My Government is not inclined at this time nor any time in the future to consider civil union or same sex marriage.”

Since the One Bermuda Alliance came to power, Minister of Community and Cultural Development Wayne Scott has said: “The Government is against discrimination in any form.

“We will strengthen Bermuda’s commitment to human rights for all, prohibiting discrimination in employment, goods and services and housing.”

The Minister has not made any comment on gay marriage. He declined a request for comment yesterday.

By Elizabeth Roberts

Source: The Royal Gazette

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