HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — The first march to celebrate gay pride is to be held in Bermuda – A British overseas territory – later this year, as the ruling Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Government prepares to go to the London-based Privy Council in a bid to reimpose a ban on same-sex marriage in the island.
LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) people and same-sex marriage campaigners said the Bermuda Pride event would help to reinforce that gay people are part of island society.
A spokesman for OutBermuda, a charity and the main sponsor of the march, said: “OutBermuda is proud to support Bermuda Pride 2019.
“There is an inherent value in a public celebration of our LGBTQ community in Bermuda as a reminder that we exist and that we are members of the Bermuda community. It is also a beacon of hope to LGBTQ youth and others who feel that they are alone.
“OutBermuda will continue to promote and support the wellbeing, health, dignity, security, safety and protection of the LGBTQ community in Bermuda, for as long as we are needed,” the spokesman said.
Bermudian, Winston Godwin-DeRoche, who challenged the island’s same-sex marriage ban with his Canadian partner, Greg, said a march in Bermuda was a huge step in the right direction.
“In Bermuda we are so quick to sweep things under the rug if they challenge the status quo,” he added.
Bermudian entertainer Mark Anderson, who is also gay, said he was “ecstatic” that a parade would be held in Bermuda.
“I think this is the right timing for it. Now Bermuda is going to be put on the map with all the other jurisdictions around the world — it will be recognised that Bermuda is joining the world in taking a stance with gay pride.
“I would like to see every Bermudian living abroad make a great effort in coming home and supporting this parade and if they do, be sure to put it on their immigration slip,” he added.
The march, organised by equal rights campaigners Liz Christopher, David Northcott and Chen Foley, is to be held on August 31 and will follow World Pride day in New York this month – which will also mark the 50th anniversary of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan, that sparked large-scale demonstrations and disorder which led to a more tolerant attitude towards gay people.
The Government’s legal bid at the Privy Council — Bermuda’s highest court of appeal — to ban same-sex weddings is likely to cost taxpayers an estimated three million US dollars, marriage equality campaigners have suggested.
Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in May 2017 that gay couples could marry but six months later the Government passed the Domestic Partnership Act, outlawing same-sex weddings.
A challenge was brought against the act by Bermudian Rod Ferguson, with OutBermuda and others joining the legal action.
Former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled on their case in June last year, finding that the parts of the legislation that restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples were unconstitutional.
He agreed to a request from the Government for his decision to be “stayed” pending an appeal, meaning gay couples could no longer wed.
The Court of Appeal upheld Mr Justice Kawaley’s ruling in November and allowed same-sex marriages to take place again.
Bermuda had earlier become the only country in the world to allow same-sex marriage and then ban it.