SSM: Govt Applies To Appeal To Privy Council

December 13, 2018

[Updating] Government confirmed today [Dec 13] that they applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal to the Privy Council in the UK concerning the recent court judgment in the same sex marriage legal case.

A spokesperson said, “Today the Government applied to the Court of Appeal for leave [permission] to appeal to the Privy Council concerning the recent Judgment of the Court of Appeal in the ‘Attorney-General v Ferguson and Others’ case. The application was filed within the period prescribed by the Appeals Act 1911.

“The Government’s position is that the issues involved in these matters are of general public importance to the people of Bermuda and involve complex and difficult issues of law which are appropriate for consideration by the Privy Council.”

Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said, “Constitutional issues are important issues and this Government wants to get it right.”

This follows after Bermuda’s Court of Appeal handed down their ruling last month, with the Court dismissing the Government’s appeal, marking the latest court victory for same sex marriage.

Same sex marriage was initially legalised following a Court decision in May 2017, then the Court ruled in favour of it again in June 2018 when a challenge was brought to the Domestic Partnership Act, and in November the Court dismissed the Government’s appeal.

The Privy Council in England is the highest and final Court of Appeal for Bermuda.

Bermuda rainbow gavel timeline 600px Dec 13 2018

Update 6.13pm: Lawyer Mark Pettingill, who along with Rod Attride Stirling has been working in the case, said, “I am not surprised, it’s certainly regrettable but we will meet this head on with a view to finally bringing it to a conclusion in favour of equal rights and justice for all.”

Update 6.30pm: OUTBermuda today called on Bermuda’s leaders to accept the decisions of Bermuda’s highest Courts and accept marriage equality under Bermuda law.

Initial Applicant Roderick Ferguson stated, “The Government’s efforts to repeal same-sex marriage have come at quite a cost, not only monetarily, but also in terms of the impact on Bermuda’s LGBT community, and our island’s reputation overseas.

“The courts have not found merit in the Government’s legal defense thus far, and are highly unlikely to do so upon appeal. At this point, an appeal to the Privy Council would merely serve to suit a political purpose. I implore the Government to stop playing politics with the right to same-sex marriage. Let the law uphold the dignity of all Bermudians.”

“Bermudians are a very fair-minded and patient people,” said Adrian Hartnett-Beasley speaking for OUTBermuda. “We strongly believe, however, that enough is enough. It is time to end futile appeals that have already wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars; let’s agree to not waste even one more.”

Zakiya Johnson Lord, OUTBermuda director, added that “Our courts have consistently reaffirmed the equal right of same-sex couples to marry. To fan the flames of discrimination is irresponsible and costly, on all levels. We want to come together. Marriage equality has come to our shores. Let’s put this in the “done” column and keep moving forward together as a people.”

Update 6.42pm: Calling it a “cynical bigoted hypocritical attack on the rights and freedoms of others,” activist Tony Brannon said “we have won three court cases and still the Government want to continue the denial of equality.

Saying they “must be sore that they lost in the Court of Appeal,” Mr Brannon said “the people of Bermuda are sore that education is in a mess amidst a myriad of other issues in Bermuda. Further waste of taxpayer dollars is obscene and repugnant. ”

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