June 6 (UPI) — Four months after Bermudan politicians placed a ban on same-sex marriage, the British territory’s Supreme Court overturned it Wednesday.
In February, Bermudan Gov. John Rankin signed into law a bill that reversed a previous bill to allow gay couples to marry, instead limiting them to having “domestic partnerships” — a move that was lauded by religious and conservative groups.
Bermuda became the first government to reverse a law allowing same-sex marriage.
But on Wednesday, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley wrote that Bermuda’s Constitution is secular and “designed to require the state to give maximum protection for freedom of conscience.”
“It only permits interference with such freedoms in the public interest for rational and secular grounds which are permitted by the Constitution,” Kawaley wrote. “The present decision vindicates the principle that Parliament cannot impose the religious preferences of any one group on the society as a whole through legislation of general application.”
OUTBermuda, one of the litigants in the lawsuit against the ban, praised the court’s decision.
“We all came to the court with one purpose. That was to overturn the unfair provisions of the Domestic Partnership Act that tried to take away the rights of same-sex couples to marry,” OUTBermuda directors Johnson Lord and Hartnett-Beasley said in a joint statement. “Revoking same-sex marriage is not merely unjust, but regressive and unconstitutional; the court has now agreed that our belief in same-sex marriage as an institution is deserving of legal protection and that belief was treated by the act in a discriminatory way under Bermuda’s Constitution.”
In addition to violating human rights, critics of the same-sex marriage ban said it would hamper the island’s tourist industry, which employs nearly 20 percent of the Bermudan population, NBC News reported.
Tourism companies like Carnival Corp, the cruise ship line, joined the lawsuit to overturn the ban.