Preserve Marriage Bermuda today published an advertisement complaining that Bermuda’s Supreme Court is being asked to legislate marriage equality. Preserve Marriage also argues that when the Human Rights Act was amended in 2013 it was a foregone conclusion that marriage equality would follow, suggesting the amendment was a sinister attempt to introduce marriage equality by indirect means. Given OUTBermuda’s mandate to support the wellbeing, health, dignity, security and protection of Bermuda’s LGBTQ community, we issue this statement in response.
Preserve Marriage’s advertisement ignores the fact that the decision of the European Convention of Human Rights in Oliari v Italy, a decision the organization has spoken much about, was not decided until after the 2013 Human Rights Act amendment. Oliari is undeniably a landmark judgment, which marked a significant shift in the European Court’s approach to issues of Lesbian and Gay equality in the sphere of family matters.
While that judgment is central to any argument today about family life protections afforded to Lesbian and Gay people, there was nothing back in 2013 to foretell this decision. OUTBermuda rejects the suggestion that LGBTQ people and allies schemed to amend the Human Rights Act with a view ultimately to marriage equality. To suggest this demonstrates a lack of understanding and empathy towards the experience of fellow Bermudians who were given both legal protection and peace of mind in the areas of housing, employment and the provision of goods and services (including governmental services) as a result of the “Two Words and a Comma” amendment.
Although Preserve Marriage says in its advertisement that it believes all people should be protected regardless of their sexuality, OUTBermuda has not seen or heard any practical suggestions from the organization about how it believes the family lives of LGBTQ people ought to be respected within Bermuda’s current legal environment. While advocating that Government cobble together a bundle of rights in an unspecified manner for the benefit of Gay and Lesbian people, Preserve Marriage has rejected out of hand options for marriage, civil partnerships and other similar legal arrangements, thereby precluding any viable option for achieving that aim.
OUTBermuda is committed to creating awareness of the real life issues affecting Bermuda’s LGBTQ people, and to leading dialogue on these issues. Accordingly, OUTBermuda will extend an invitation to Preserve Marriage to enter into conversation on how the status quo, as it relates to Lesbian and Gay families, fails to honor and respect the dignity of all people in Bermuda.
November 30, 2016 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE