Referendum: Centre To Apply For Judicial Review

May 23, 2016

The Centre for Justice was granted leave by the Supreme Court of Bermuda to apply for judicial review of the Referendum on same sex marriage and civil unions, saying that they believe a referendum on the questions proposed “will breach a variety of fundamental rights.”

The Referendum is due to be held on June 23, 2016, and the questions will be “are you in favour of same sex marriage in Bermuda?” and “are you in favour of same sex civil unions in Bermuda?”

The statement said, “The Centre for Justice wishes to announce that today it was granted leave by the Supreme Court of Bermuda to apply for judicial review of The Referendum [Same Sex Relationships] Act 2016 and any Referendum that will be held under that Act. .

“The basis for CfJ commencing this court action is that CfJ believes, in summary, that a referendum on the questions proposed by the Government in the 2016 Act will breach a variety of fundamental rights related to due process, equality of treatment, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and freedom of association guaranteed by the Bermuda Constitution, and that it will also give rise to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and family status prohibited by the Human Rights Act 1981 and by the European Convention on Human Rights.

“CfJ is gravely concerned that this Referendum is likely to set a dangerous precedent. Unless the legality of such a Referendum is carefully scrutinized by the Court, the Government [whether in the form of current or future administrations] is likely to rely on the fact of this Referendum as justification for holding future referenda whenever Government faces issues involving fundamental and individual human rights, simply because those issues might prove to be difficult politically, or unpopular with the majority of voters.

“Furthermore, given the nature of the questions posed by the Referendum, CfJ is concerned by the fact that 6 of the 12 polling stations chosen [and the only polling station chosen for advanced polling] are church halls, in circumstances where representatives of at least 3 of those churches have openly expressed opposition to same-sex unions in the past.

“Given that this matter is now pending before the Courts, it will be inappropriate for CfJ to make further comments in public.”

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  1. M.C. Beauchamp says:

    Hallelujah! Bravo Centre for Justice. Bravo.

    • Bermie says:

      CfJ also need to point out that it is against our human rights to offer civil unions to same sex couples without offering that right to the rest of the community. This really has not been thought through properly (i.e. Government’s decision to hold this referendum and also its choice of questions). Human rights should never be put to popular vote.

      • Sickofantz says:

        Quite so it should just be marriage. I agree with you bermie we need to allow same sex individuals to marry.

  2. paperboy says:

    Thank you CfJ for stepping in while our politicians are play duck and hide with our basic human rights.

    Like our good friends at BEST you must remind them that they are obligated to play politics within our legal framework. They are not the law nor above the law.

    I look forward to hearing the outcome of your efforts.

    May you all continue to protect Bermuda from Bermudian politics and our politicians.

  3. OnionBird says:

    Thank you, The Centre for Justice!

  4. Chaos Theory says:

    The second part of their argument, I agree with. The first, not so much.

  5. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    Well done CfJ, it is particularly interesting the points raised about the polling stations and the issues it raises with the referendum.

  6. Leroy says:

    Again we see OBA poor governing

    • Mike Hind says:

      Both parties are equally as bad as the other on this issue, just in different ways.

      The OBA is cowardly and refuse to stand up and lead.
      The PLP is outright hostile to our LGBT friends and family.

      Let’s not put this on one side or the other. This isn’t something that either side can score political points on.

      • Leroy says:

        I was referring to the present time how this issue is being dealt with , a non BINDING Referendum ? a draft civil union bill on the government website , Mr Dunkleys endorsement of and talk of civil unions is looking like they are going ahead with civil unions regardless , in other words it’s a done deal . The referendum is just a way to hoodwink the public into thinking they are making a decision . The courts have ruled immigration must have a pathway for non bermudian partners in a permanent relationship with a bermudian they now have to package it up as two same sex bermudians cannot find parity plus government will end up in the courts with this issue until it becomes real marraige equality . The proper decision should have been debated and decided in the house not this circus .

        • Leroy says:

          The other side is in the closet an embarrassment to the gay community and themselves what else could be more important in their lives ?

      • Ed Case says:

        PLP will complain whatever Oba does so it makes no difference. At least Oba isn’t sending us to complete ruin like the pathetic lying party.

      • VampireV says:

        Yes. but honestly as Politians we voters should know what they all stand for. Since it’s the people that voted and place them there.

        • Mike Hind says:

          I’m just saying that neither side is very good at any of this stuff, so laying this at the feet of the OBA is just partisan nonsense.

  7. sage says:

    Uh, CfJ, the war on some drugs is an ongoing discriminatory, hypocritical, human rights atrocity, where people are imprisoned wrongfully etc, etc, got a position on that? Why did you sit back and not call for equal rights for the disabled, who are less able to mount the media blitz the LBGQT has, having disabled people gain equal rights like two years after the selfish “two words and a comma” campaign ensured sexual orientation was first?

    • Mike Hind says:

      Wait… A disenfranchised group standing up for themselves and demanding equal rights is “selfish”?


      Why, because they don’t address every single injustice ever?

      Come on. That’s ridiculous.

    • Noncents says:

      @ sage

      while I agree that the war on drugs is a disaster and needs to be addressed, its disingenuous to equate it with one’s right to marry another person they love. Not sure what point you are making re/disabled. Can you provide specific examples of their human rights being infringed?

      • sage says:

        Disabled people were not included until recently, long after sexual orientation was added, that is my point. The CfJ is supposed to look out for those among us who may not be able to “get up stand up” and demand rights, be the cause célèbre, or those with no friends in high places, IMO. The war on some drugs is the worst government backed, systemic human rights outrage in modern times, I am not equating it to, I am saying it is a more urgent and dire issue, you can marry anyone you like presently, granted it won’t be officially recognized, yet, but at least you won’t be jailed or labelled a criminal, and then you can fight it in the courts where I guarantee you will win. I am not disabled so I can’t speak to what people with these challenges face, but knowing how some folk treat people with no disabilities I’m guessing it could be pretty bad.

        • Pastor Syl says:

          As an addendum, many of the people who campaigned for equal rights for LGBT folk are not themselves a part of the LGBT community.
          Again, if you feel strongly about any issue, I invite you to get active in championing that cause. It is the only way to have it happen. However, if you don’t feel strongly enough to step up to the plate, I urge you not to put down the efforts of others who have struggled long and hard for a cause they were willing to step out of their comfort zone to support.

          • sage says:

            What is the role of the CfJ ? To defend only gay rights and SSM? I don’t need you to invite me to champion any cause, or make snide remarks about “if you don’t feel strongly enough to step up to the plate…” I urge you to stop making assumptions and address the points raised instead.

    • Pastor Syl says:

      The campaign for equality for the LGBT community has been ongoing since before the Stubbs Bill in, what was that? the 90s? Nearly 30 years!! If you feel that strongly about the disabled, then perhaps you could be rallying like minded people to campaign for that. It is very clear that very little happens here without people with convictions and staying power driving the change.
      I am sure that there are any number of people who would work with you to effect change on the disabled front, including me. I encourage you to get it off the ground and moving.

  8. Zevon says:

    Who cares if polling stations are church halls. At any point in time many polling stations are probably operated by someone with an opnion about the outcome of the election. This is no different.

    • Legalgal says:

      Although I can see if the church lobbyists are not present and the building is just used that is ok. But given the role of these churches it is inappropriate to use them.

  9. Rhonda says:

    I wonder how many non-believers or worst still atheists have entered church halls to vote…

    • Ed Case says:

      I certainly have. And no imaginary boogie man struck me down either.

    • Zevon says:

      Thousands and thousands of them. Millions, over the years.
      They have the RIGHT.

    • blankman says:

      In most cases I’m not overly worried about non-believers entering a church to vote since I’m sure it’s unlikely to influence their vote. However, in this case I’m worried about “believers” entering a church hall to vote on something that the church specifically opposes. That can’t do anything but influence them.

    • Um Um Like says:

      I wonder how many hypocrites enter churches to pray.

    • littel dancing green trolls says:

      what is wrong with someone having a different belief than you ? most wars have been financed by religious groups .,many human rights violations because of religious groups. then again the separation of church and state should start by prohibiting any religious group or sect to be involved in any and all government affairs starting with voting polls at the halls belonging to such groups that can influence a vote to enlarge their profit and followers. second why do churches not pay tax !lets start by making them pay tax. if the riding school, you, me and any one with an income has to pay tax why not them. the income they fail to claim allows the leaders a lavish and comfortable live style most of us dream of but again making money from the ignorance of masses .

    • Mike Hind says:

      “Worst still”?

      What does THAT mean?

      Should we not be allowed into church halls to vote?

    • Noncents says:

      @ Rhonda

      I am an atheist- what’s your point? If you are going to use church halls as a polling station I am going to go in and exercise my democratic right.

    • Sickofantz says:

      so what?

    • Sickofantz says:

      As a white person horrified by the enslavement of my black brothers and sisters I find the christian church and their historic use of their bible to justify slavery abhorrent. Wrongs like slavery and then the indoctrination of the rest of the world via colonialism made me an atheist.

  10. Let’s just wait and see what the court says. I would had thought , government would have had covered all bases , as to weather the referendum was fair and just. Civil unions don’t need a legal ruling , to establish a (boy -girl type relationship), otherwise a legal partnership could satisfy that .Bermuda is against same sex marriage . We all love and respect persons who feel otherwise ,without accepting their life style . If we are given the vote on this issue, it must be NO NO!!

    • Mike Hind says:

      More contradictory untruths from you, showing a complete ignorance of the subject.

      Any chance you’ll stand up and be brave enough to offer a reason to oppose marriage equality and then defend that reason?
      Or will you just run away from simple questions like a coward, as usual?

  11. Portia says:

    Holding a referendum on same-sex relationships is not illegal under EC law or the ECHR. Both Slovenia and Ireland held same-sex referendums last year (one outcome for, one against). They are both EU members and the ECHR upheld the decisions in both cases. Therefore, it is incorrect to state that such referendums breach the ECHR.

    • just wondering says:

      i suggest you have a look at the ACTUAL referendum issue in Ireland – it was to amend their constitution to allow same sex marriages and that HAD to be by referendum – it wasn’t by choice

    • Pastor Syl says:

      I don’t know about Slovenia, but it is my understanding that the reason Ireland held a referendum was because the issue would result in a change in their Constitution. That is not the case in Bermuda

    • blankman says:

      Ireland didn’t have a choice. Marriage is defined in their Constitution which could only be changed via popular vote.

    • Mike Hind says:

      No surprises here. “Portia” spreading misinformation, yet again.

      Why can’t you guys try being honest for once?

    • Disappointment says:


      Ireland held a referendum because they were constitutionally required to hold a referendum to change the constitution. Bermuda does not need to hold a referendum to make constitutional changes.

      Also Bermuda is holding a non-binding referendum. In Ireland a referendum will typically only be binding.

    • Gargoyle Wings says:

      As others have said Ireland had to have the referendum.

      As for Slovenia, “On 21 April 2016, the Assembly approved the bill to give same-sex partnerships all rights of marriage, except adoption and in vitro fertilisation.” So yeah they had their little referendum, but they still went forward in giving same-sex couples rights, and probably will extend those rights in the future.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      It should be noted that in Slovenia’s case, the voter turnout was around 36% of their registered voters, and their law stipulates that a referendum vote may carry so long as the vote is supported by only 20% of registered voters. Now given that the referendum was forced by opposition to a bill that was passed in the National Assembly allowing same sex marriage, one of the reasoned conclusions for such a low voter turnout was that the many in the ‘for’ camp boycotted it. The referendum was held just last December, and I can find no ruling by the ECHR on it one way or another, but many EU parliamentarians condemned on the basis that human rights/equality under the law should not be a grant by majority.
      As for Ireland, a referendum was required as they had to actually change their constitution in order to allow same sex marriage.
      As for the ECHR standing on same sex marriage, while they don’t say that countries must have marriage equality, they do say that countries must allow for the granting of equal rights as marriage grants under the law irregardless of gender orientation of the couples. Equality under the law is a must.

  12. Jim bob says:

    Why should homosexuals be allowed to hijack the definition of marriage and completely change it?

    • Mike Hind says:

      They aren’t.

      That’s not what’s happening. Stop spreading lies.

    • blankman says:

      Who’s hijacking anything? Even the biblical definition of marriage includes

      - one man/one wife
      - on man/many wives
      - one man/many wives & many concubines
      - a soldier and his female prisoner(s) of war
      - a rapist and his victim
      - a man and the female sex slaves he purchased from foreigners

      So what’s the problem?

    • What?? says:

      Any chance you will defend your statement with any explanation at all?

    • Common Sense says:

      No-one, and I repeat no-one is in any way whatever “hijacking the definition of marriage”. All that SSM is doing is “expanding the definition of marriage”. As a person who has been happily married for almost 50 years, my marriage will not in any way whatever be diminished or reduced by allowing others to enjoy the same rights that my spouse and I value so greatly. I am totally in agreement with allowing SSM, but I would not be in favour of forcing any church or religious group to marry same sex couples in their church. But if a particular denomination decides in the future to class SSM I would also have no objection.

      On the issue of church marriages, if any Bermudian applies for, or re-applies for a passport, please be advised that the marriage certificate issued by your church is not worth the paper it is written on in order to prove that you are married. The law requires that if you are applying for a passport you need a marriage certifcate issued by the Registrars Office.

      Allowing same sex couples to marry in the Registrar’s Office is simply providing them with equal human rights and has no impact whatever on traditional marriages.

      • sage says:

        Will polygamy remain illegal when ssm is passed and why?

        • What?? says:

          It will remain illegal. Why? Because you are too lazy to get off your a$$ and struggle for a right you believe you should have. Of course it’s much more likely you are just trying to make one more ridiculous “slippery slope” arguement.

          • sage says:

            Stop judging, your IQ is showing, why is polygamists right to marriage ridiculous or a slippery slope any more than SSM? Now it is LBGQTP equality! Please explain why polygamy is not ok, I really want to hear this.

        • Mike Hind says:

          Because it is a completely different topic.

          As I mentioned to you before.

          Funny how you seem to be forgetting conversations you’ve already had…

          • sage says:

            Isn’t the topic marriage equality?

            • Mike Hind says:

              Yep. And what’s being addressed is specifically the people who are asking for it.

              No one is asking for polygamy on a societal level. If they were, folks might support it.

              As you know because we’ve had this conversation before. Why do you keep bringing up the same questions when they’ve already been answered?

              • sage says:

                Because the answers still make no sense. People are asking to expand the current definition of marriage, so the question is relevant, although some feel only their rights deserve addressing.

                • Mike Hind says:

                  What?this makes no sense.

                  So, we should be pushing for rights that no one is asking for?

                  No one is asking for polygamy. There is no movement pushing for this.

                  The only time it’s brought up, in these “discussions” is when anti-equality people are trying to “make a point”.
                  It’s not a valid point for this one very simple reason.

                  No one is asking for it.

                  If they were? If they were seriously asking for this, we’d be addressing it.

                  But they aren’t. There are no groups organizing to fix this problem.

                  So, one has to ask… Given what I’ve said… Why are you bringing it up?

                  Am I wrong?

                • Zevon says:

                  You want to expand the definition of plants that are legal.
                  Nah, keep it as it is. It’s a slippry slope. Before long you’ll all want the right to have heroin and cocaine. You’ll want the right to make it and sell it to children. That must follow. It’s a slippey slope. Inevitable.

        • Just the Tip says:

          Yes because it is a completely seperate issue from SSM and need to be dealt with on its own, but you know this.

          • sage says:

            Isn’t polygamy frowned upon for the same religious grounds as SSM, are they both not human rights issues concerning broadening the definition of marriage?

            • Just the Tip says:

              Actually no, there a few verse that support polygamy in one way or another it is only the ‘modern’ church that frowns on it. While both issues are to do with rights as i said before they are seperate issues and they need to be dealt with on their own merits, as you well know. So if you are really so keen about having polygamy recgonized then I suggest you start a campain to fix the law. But more than likely you won’t since you only trying to use polygamy as an excuse to block SSM.

              • sage says:

                I find it ridiculous that equal rights for all humans needs to be doled out to only one campaign at a time according to how popular or vociferous it is, it is a farce then, not worth the paper it is written on. Just because I suggest a groups rights are ignored doesn’t mean I am a proponent, apparently asking questions and considering the plight of non-LBGQT is a bad thing, I forgot to jump in lock step with all the sheeple.

        • Zevon says:

          Yes it will remain illegal. As will marrying your cat or your Toyota.
          Got any more stupid questions?

          • sage says:

            Yes, WHY? Got any more idiotic responses?

            • Mike Hind says:

              As mentioned to you before, repeatedly, the reason why is because no one is asking for it.

              Why do you keep asking questions that people have already answered ?

              • sage says:

                Answers? Like “get off your a$$ and start a campaign…”, “it’s a different topic…”, “yes it will remain illegal like marrying your cat or Toyota…”, “you’re only trying to present a slippery slope argument…”, “why do you keep asking questions…”, “so we should be pushing for rights no one asked for…” and “why are you bringing it up…” speaks to the self- righteous arrogance that may lead to less than 50% of voters participating, I don’t oppose SSM despite you assuming I do, but I won’t waste my time voting for it, Keep up your personal PR campaign and continue berating anyone who asks questions. I’m out.

                • Mike Hind says:

                  Amazing! How are you going to play the victim when you’ve completely ignored every point made in response to your questions?

                  I love how you don’t actually address the answers you’ve been given, as they easily prove your position to be wrong, choosing instead to run off on your pretend high horse so you don’t have to face the fact that people have shown you to be wrong.

                  So much for courage of convictions.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          What would be wrong with polygamous relationship?? The common misconception is to associate polygamy with being solely polygyny, or polyandry. There are cases of successful polygamous families who’s children have gone on to successful lives, in large part to the large family support structure that is present. These cases involve people who are open and honest with their relationships within the family, but are typically overshadowed by the more widely published and damaging nature of the more closed practices of polygyny and polyandry, being shamed by assumed association.

  13. just wondering says:

    I have long wondered what the “logic” is in having a vote on whether someone has (or should have) the right to marry another person – the existence or non existence of human rights is a legal issue and is NOT a matter for a popularity contest – an analogy would be to have a referendum on whether someone is guilty of a particular crime or not!!

  14. Gorey_man says:

    This is not good – this is very bad. CfJ are trying to say that same sex marriage is already the law of the land and having a referendum of it, suggests otherwise. Don’t they realize that at least close to half the population of Bermuda vehemently disagrees?
    How do you get people to agree? I strongly believe you debate things, you don’t ram your wishes down their throat and hope the law will support you. The whole point of a referendum is that the resulting consensus is undeniable. Up with democracy and down with coercion!
    That said, I have reservations with a nonbinding referendum being held on enemy territory and with a rule that if half the voting population side decline to vote that it won’t count. that;s all very silly. Its like the referendum is designed to fail.

    • Mike Hind says:

      We’ve been trying to debate.
      Sadly, the anti-equality side refuses to engage, choosing instead to force their views onto everyone else with no explanation.

      A debate would be wonderful. Sadly, they’re not interested, at all.

    • blankman says:

      Human rights should not be subject to popular opinion. That’s why they’re rights.

  15. Ed Case says:

    Religiotards go in there too.

  16. Coffee says:

    Polling stations should be in school halls , places where the majority of the population would have been taught absolute right from wrong , a place where you could freely vote your conscious . Leave the church all the way out of any thing to do with same sex marriage .That’s the way the LGBT’s would have it , they don’t believe in God or the bible or Jesus , because the fictional God doesn’t support same sex sex or marraige .LGBT’s believe in science and hormones and same love and having children and not having children and family and rights and laws and equality and things normal and abnormal . Life for them isn’t black or white , but a rainbow , not the biblical rainbow , so let’s us forget even about the schools , let’s have the polling stations at the two ends of their rainbow .

    • What?? says:

      Do you have a functioning brain cell?

    • Mike Hind says:

      What a load of nonsense.

      You’re just ranting gibberish now, because you have absolutely no argument.

      How are we supposed to take any of you seriously when THIS is the level of discourse from the anti-equality side?

      • Coffee says:

        Did I miss anything ?

        • Mike Hind says:

          Nothing you said was real or true or even sane. You’re just screaming like an angry lunatic, pissed off cuz you know you don’t actually have an argument.

          • James says:

            Actually the only person screaming on here is you Troll. You have it bad. My friend is gay and he even thinks you need extra help. Never work at a mental hospital because they will never let you leave.

            • Mike Hind says:

              Ah, the personal attack alongside the “my gay friend thinks I’m cool”, all the while hiding behind the hood of anonymity.

              How about addressing what I said? No? Then it’s not me that’s the troll, “James”.

              Learn what words mean before you embarrass yourself.

        • Mike Hind says:


          This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

          THIS is the level of discourse from the anti-equality side.

          How can we have a debate when THIS level of clownery is par for the course?

    • blankman says:

      What makes you think that members of the LGBT community do not believe in God, the Bible, or Jesus? There are plenty of gay Christians and a few minutes with google should provide you with any number of sites confirming that.

      BTW, if you weren’t aware of it, both the Catholic and Orthodox churches had same sex marriage liturgies on the books for centuries.