UK Privy Council Sets Final Appeal on February 3 and 4, 2021
September 17, 2020 – This week, leaders and attorneys for OUTBermuda confirmed that the long-awaited, final stage of appeal for Bermuda’s historic marriage equality decision will take place in London on February 3 and 4, 2021 – rather than December 2020 as originally set.
As Bermudians await the final appeal in 2021, OUTBermuda also released its latest public opinion poll demonstrating dramatic shifts in public attitudes over the past four years. The opinion research was commissioned by OUTBermuda and conducted in August by Bermuda-based Global Research. Key findings show:
- In 2016, when asked, 36% of Bermudians said they favored same-sex marriage. In 2020, however, a solid majority (53%) of Bermudians now say they favor same-sex marriage, with 11% still reporting they’re not sure. Significantly nearly 2/3 of younger Bermudians (64% between the ages of 18 and 34) also favor same-sex marriage.
- Moreover, over the past four years, when asked if their lives had been negatively affected by same-sex couples being able to marry, adopt or live together, an overwhelming 95% of Bermudians answered, “no.” Similarly, only 4% of Bermudians stated they are personally less accepting of gay and lesbian people than in 2016.
- OUTBermuda also reports that three-quarters (75%) of Bermuda’s registered voters are opposed to their government spending more money to seek appeal, after having already lost three legal cases in a row. Only 15% say they feel the government ought to persist.
“Bermudians are generally a gracious and hospitable people,” said OUTBermuda Chair Adrian Hartnett-Beasley. “As public attitudes show today, while they have grown increasingly comfortable with the LGBTQI+ community, their patience as taxpayers has worn thin with our government’s costly opposition to marriage equality.”
OUTBermuda Deputy Chair Zakiya Lord put it this way, “Since Bermuda’s historic marriage equality case in 2017 and despite the Government’s misconceived opposition, Bermuda’s same-sex couples have continued to commit to each other and consecrated their vows under Bermuda law. It’s past time as a nation that we celebrated rather than contested our marriages. Indeed our survey shows that LGBTQI+ issues did not even register as an important issue to residents, of which 85% highlighted ‘the economy’, ‘unemployment’, and ‘education’.”
Co-plaintiff Roderick Ferguson, whose lawsuit spawned the original Supreme Court victory in this matter in 2018, said: “Over the past three years, the popular support for marriage equality and for the LGBTQ community is stronger than ever and growing here at home. We have won not only in the judicial arena, but in the hearts and homes of Bermudians.”
Bermuda Timeline on Same-Sex Marriage:
- Marriage equality for Bermuda’s same-sex couples has been legal since the May 2017 decision in Godwin and DeRoche. Since then, the Bermuda Government sought to remove that right through the Domestic Partnership Act 2018, however both the Supreme Court (6 June 2018) and the Court of Appeal (23 November 2018) found this action to be unconstitutional and marriage equality has been upheld.
- Since May 2017, therefore, Bermuda same-sex couples have had their marriages celebrated and recognized in Bermuda and around the world. There is no precise estimate of their number however.
- The ongoing legal battle and final hearing on February 3 and 4, 2021 in the Privy Council, however, is necessary to retain this basic human right and make it permanent and lasting for all residents of the islands.
- OUTBermuda and fellow Bermudian plaintiffs Roderick Ferguson, Maryellen Jackson, Dr Gordon Campbell, the Parlour Tabernacle of the Vision Church of Bermuda and Sylvia Hayward, are delighted to confirm that Lord David Pannick, Queen’s Counsel, has agreed to represent them in their case in the Privy Council. Lord Pannick is considered the pre-eminent human rights and constitutional advocate in the United Kingdom, with extensive global experience. See https://www.blackstonechambers.com/barristers/lord-pannick-qc/
- OUTBermuda as well as Roderick Ferguson and the other successful plaintiffs are seeking to enforce the Court of Appeal’s Order against the Government for legal costs incurred. Once the appeals are fully exhausted, it is estimated that the Bermuda Government will incur more than $3 million in covering their own legal expenses as well as the successful plaintiffs (including OUTBermuda).
- Human rights advocates and leaders across the British Commonwealth of nations are watching these developments closely. Some legal experts believe these decisions will set favorable legal precedent on the marriage rights for same-sex couples in many other jurisdictions within the Commonwealth.
- OUTBermuda has keenly been watching the progress made in the Cayman Islands with the creation of Civil Partnerships less than two weeks ago and wishes to send its support to Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush as they also consider their legal approach with the Privy Council in London in February 2021.
Please click here for graphic representations of this newest public opinion data:
OUTBermuda Survey Result Graphs on Public Attitudes and Privy Council 9-17-2020
Or click here for direct link to pdf. (Some mobile browsers have limited functionality with embedded pdf button above)
Here are additional survey highlights from the current Bermuda public opinion research conducted in late August 2020 (as well as contrasting findings from a similar poll conducted in 2016):
■ 92% believe that gays and lesbians deserved human rights protection (vs. 73% in 2016).
■ 95% believe that gays and lesbians deserved civil rights protection (vs. 68% in 2016).
■ 53% are in favor of same-sex marriage in Bermuda (vs. 36% in 2016).
■ 72% believe that a church should be allowed to perform a wedding between two consenting adults (vs. 54% in 2016).
■ 75% oppose the Bermuda Government spending more money on litigation to ban same-sex marriage; 15% supported it.
■ 3% stated that they had been negatively affected by same-sex couples being able to marry, adopt or live together over the past three years.
Global Research utilized Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) to interview
520 Bermuda residents aged 18 years and older (including 450 registered Bermuda voters). These telephone interviews were conducted between August 20th – August 27th 2020, and the results were weighted to be representative of Bermuda’s population based on age, race and gender. The survey’s margin of error for the study is +/- 4.3%. Reported percentages and summary values may not sum to 100% due to rounding. Where possible, the results obtained are compared to a similar demographically weighted survey conducted in 2016 with 400 registered voters in Bermuda.