PM: HRC Is “Overstepping Their Boundaries’

July 14, 2016

The Human Rights Commission is “overstepping their boundaries by going against the European Convention that applies to Bermuda,” Preserve Marriage said.

The Human Rights Commission previously said they were “deeply disturbed by the recent passing of the Human Rights Amendment Bill 2016″, adding that “regardless of our position on the issue of marriage equality, we should all be concerned about the example this sets.”

The HRC said, “The effect of the Human Rights Amendment Bill 2016 is to legally permit discrimination against individuals of a protected class, thereby enshrining discrimination in the very Act that was put in place to protect against it.

“As a community, regardless of our position on the issue of marriage equality, we should all be concerned about the example this sets. If we can so brazenly undermine our commitment to anti-discrimination in this area, why not in other areas?

“The Bermuda Constitution only prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, or political opinions. The background of Bermuda’s Human Rights Act is that it was developed in 1981 to provide Bermuda with a more modern and evolved anti-discrimination framework.

“Once Members of Parliament decide it is appropriate to carve out legislation from protection under the Human Rights Act, it is opening the door for future discriminatory legislation against individuals protected by the Human Rights Act, but not the Constitution. This is a dangerous precedent.

“For example, discrimination on the basis of gender is not prohibited by the Constitution, but is prohibited by the Human Rights Act. Are we, as a community, willing to accept that the House of Assembly, if it chooses, can pass legislation that is discriminatory against women by carving legislation out from the Human Rights Act, for example?”

The Human Rights Amendment 2016 — which seeks to maintain marriage as being defined as between a man and a woman — passed in the House of Assembly on Friday and will be debated in the Senate today.

The full statement from Preserve Marriage is below:

The Human Rights Commission is overstepping their boundaries by going against the European Convention that applies to Bermuda. The opening paragraph on Page 3 of Human Rights Act 1981 reads, “WHEREAS the European Convention on Human Rights applies to Bermuda – by declaration of the United Kingdom under Article 63 of the Convention.”

This is quite concerning as their mandate is to uphold the Convention, not go against it; and to uphold our Human Rights Act 1981 and not to supersede it.

In addition, Chief Justice Kawaley just released his judgment this past Monday, July 11, 2016 in the case, Centre for Justice vs Bermuda Government with Preserve Marriage Bermuda Limited intervening, that to hold a referendum does not trample on anyone’s human rights.

He struck down their claims on all three arguments that same-sex marriage is a human right by ruling against their attempt to prove a referendum will trample on human rights according to the Bermuda Constitution 1968, Human Rights Act 1981 and Common Law.

Pertaining to the request of the Bermuda public and the Bermuda parliament to fortify marriage in Bermuda we must take into account the 10 irrefutable facts of the European Court of Human Rights, Bermuda law and documented world truth:

1. Same-sex marriage is not a human right under the European Convention of Human Rights [Based on the last 7 cases before the ECHR];

2. “The European Court of Human Rights reiterates that it will not put an obligation on governments to grant a same-sex couple access to marriage.” [Oliari and Other vs Italy 2015 paragraph 192].

3. “The ECtHR confirmed the decision of the French Supreme Court [Cour de Cassation], affirming that there is no discrimination if the State denies the right to marry to two adults of the same sex.” This ruling was unanimous. [Summary of the Chapin vs. Charpentier vs. France June 9, 2016 ruling].

4. The European Court of Human Rights observes that marriage has deep-rooted social and cultural connotations which may differ largely from one society to another. The Court reiterates that it must not rush to substitute its own judgment in place of that of the national authorities, who are best placed to assess and respond to the needs of society. [ECtHR, Schalk and Kopf v. Austria, Application no 30141/04, judgment of 24 June 2010.]

5. In recent years, 13 Contracting States under the European Convention have recently fortified their legislative frameworks to retain the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, which is simply what Bermuda is trying to do now. “The most recent constitutional amendments [Latvia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, FYR of Macedonia] are aimed at preventing the introduction of same-sex marriage either by way of legislation or jurisprudence. This is why they define marriage as “a unique union between a man and a woman” [Slovakia] instead of simply guaranteeing “to men and women” the right to marry and found a family…” [Gregor Puppinck, PhD., Director of the European Center of Law and Justice, Starsbourg, 20 April 2015]. In contrast, only 11 Contracting States have redefined marriage.

6. In the June 2016 Center for Justice vs Bermuda Government case, Chief Justice Kawaley ruled that in Bermuda it is legally permissible to hold a referendum that might result in the “diminution or extinction of rights… under the Human Rights Act 1981 through a change in the law.” [Center for Justice vs. Bermuda Government, June 10, 2016 Paragraph 16 [c]].

7. Bermuda is in step with 193 countries [more the 90 percent of the world] that still retain marriage between a man and a woman. This includes all of Africa [except South Africa], all of the Caribbean, all of the Middle East, all of Asia and all of the Far East and almost all of South America and Western Europe. This demonstrates that across a wide range of races, ethnicities, political frameworks, cultures, and religions there is a common view of marriage being between a man and a woman. The overwhelming majority recognize that the redefinition of marriage leads to a reordering of society.

8. Only one country in the world that has redefined marriage did so by the judiciary against the will of the people and against democracy. Bermuda should not do the same. [The ADF Landesgerichtsstrabe 18/10 Vienna, Austria Report, 15 December 2015, Paragraph 27].

9. When the Human Rights Act 1981 was amended to add “two words and a comma” the then Attorney General Pettingill and Minister Wayne Scott said that this would not lead to the redefinition of marriage in Bermuda. In addition, the current Cabinet is trying to fortify marriage based on the Bill they also have laid down. The current legislation only holds them accountable for their words. The HRA in particular needs to be fortified as it is more commonly seen as the Act superior to all others. This will minimize further tax payer dollars being spent on court cases whereby the Government is continually sued.

10. The truth is benefits are available to all people without having to introduce sex civil unions [which legally leads to same-sex marriage] or same-sex marriage, whether for seniors that live together for economic reasons, married or single persons who need hospital visitation rights, medical decisions that have to be made through a power of attorney, property inheritance by a will, medical rights for dependents who require it, or beneficiary rights in a pension. These can be summarized legally which is in process by Preserve Marriage Bermuda Limited and will be presented to the Bermuda Government.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Just the Tip says:

    The Christian agenda to rule the world at work

  2. hmmm says:

    Question to the Preserve marriage people.

    3 choices. Simple question.

    Do you believe a Gay person or a Lesbian person is inferior, equal or superior to you ?

    • Ashley says:

      Most are going to say equal, they justify it because of their religion. People like this blame this kind of thing on their religion.

    • hmmm says:

      Nobody ?

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      They like to say equal, but then they don’t think they should have access equal legal standing. This is why we have Freedom of Religion, but doesn’t it violate the Freedom of Religion of those Christians who accept and would marry same sex couples. It come down to this, they think they have the moral authority to tell the Pele of this country what is right and wrong, and they want that authority legally enshrined, damn to democracy

  3. ct says:

    Let’s be clear.

    Point 1: The ECHR did not say that marriage is a right. What it has said is that governments must provide a legal framework to bestow legal rights on same sex couples. That could be marriage, or it could be something else. Either way, there has to be something. This conclusion has been reiterated by Bermuda’s Supreme Court. This is why civil unions are inevitable here (or, alternatively, parliament could amend every single Act to facilitate equal rights but that would be an extraordinary undertaking with thousands of Acts being reviewed). The HRC has never said that marriage is a right. It has simply pointed out the legal requirement that the Bermuda government faces, and highlighted that discrimination is odious in any form when it comes to equal treatment by the law.

    Point 2: The Matrimonial Causes Act already says that marriage is between a man and a woman. If one wants to give that primacy, then the correct place to put that is section 30 of the HRA and list the Matrimonial Causes Act in schedule 2. It is not correct law to put it in the HRA where the Furbert amendment has it. The effect of his amendment is to embed discrimination and opens the door for other discrimination against protected classes that are listed in the HRA but not the Constitution (gender, disability, marital status, whether you were born in wedlock, whether you have a criminal record, etc). The point is a subtle legal distinction based on the reading of the HRA — I would encourage anyone who has not read the HRA recently to do so.

    Point 3: It is not possible, currently, for same sex couples to enter into a series of contract/agreements/documents that in effect give the same rights as marriage/civil unions. There would always remain loop holes and errors, including not being able to benefit from “spouse’s” social insurance, etc. I personally investigated this when my husband and I considered whether to get married or just enter into various power of attorneys, etc. We were advised by 2 lawyers that only marriage affords us the universal rights we were seeking (as per a married couple).

    Conclusion: My belief is that, at this point in Bermuda’s political and cultural environment, the most appropriate course of action is to reject the amendment in the Senate because it is incorrect drafting, send it back to the House to be corrected, pass that in conjunction with a civil unions bill. And then move on with life.

    • Onion says:

      Your conclusion is flawed.

      A Civil Unions bill would create a separate but equal structure which would have several major inequities vs. marriage. It’s better just to amend the existing act to remove gender references.

  4. Unbelievable says:

    I am not gay but I think Bermuda’s gay community needs to step up and oppose this “Preserve Marriage” group with a lot more force.

    PM is running all over you lot.

  5. Ashley says:

    Preserve Marriage, you’re the ones overstepping your boundaries by dragging religion where it doesn’t belong. You have no right to call them out like that when you have over stepped your boundaries from the beginning. Sure same sex marriage isn’t a right, but neither is marriage period. Maybe everyone shouldn’t be allowed to be married, sorry that’s a stupid argument that it’s not a right. Traditional marriage has long ended with the income of divorce, the problem the adultery and many other problems with marriage such as some married couples refusing to have offspring. All I’m hearing is poor excuses to slip your religion into politics. Come up with a good reason and I’ll listen and I may even agree, but get your religion out of here.

  6. Toodle-oo says:

    This is too funny . PM and their supporters had no problem poking their fingers in the eyes of all the SSM supporters after the results of an invalid referendum but are now crying foul that the HRC is poking their finger in their eyes !

  7. sandgrownan says:

    PM is religious bigotry at it’s finest. Next they’ll be forcing other religious nonsense on Bermuda. They need to be stopped and ridiculed.

  8. What boundries are those?

    Define said boundaries and where they exist in writing ,law or legislation.

    Are you making this up?

    Overstepping boundaries?

    Sounds juvenile.

    Human rights are human rights and by their very nature inailiable!

  9. Rhonnda Oliver says:

    I suspect the Human Rights Commission knows more about human rights than Preserve Marriage does.

  10. nightlily says:


  11. boston baked bean says:

    Who amongst us this they have the right to discriminate against ANYONE? For all those people who have declared for YEARS that they have been unjustly discriminated against, you should be ashamed.

  12. boston baked bean says:

    Obviously forgot to spell check. Apologies for the lousy grammar/spelling :-(

  13. Man what says:

    The only group that is overstepping their boundary is Preserve Marriage, telling people what they can and cannot do and who is entitled to certain rights. Yeah, I would definitely call that stepping over the boundary.