Audio: Minister Simmons On LGBTQ Tourism

March 7, 2018

When it comes to the “controversy surrounding Domestic Partnership Bill, when you compare Bermuda to many of the destinations in the Caribbean, Bermuda is far in advance of many of our competitors,” Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Jamahl Simmons said, adding that “the message that we will continue to push is that Bermuda is welcome to all.”

Speaking in Parliament, Minister Simmons said, “When it comes to the LGBTQ community, I think it is important that when it comes to the issue of the controversy surrounding Domestic Partnership Bill, when you compare Bermuda to many of the destinations in the Caribbean, Bermuda is far in advance of many of our competitors.

Audio extract of some of the Minister’s comments:

“And I think that the message that we will continue to push is that Bermuda is welcome to all. And I think that the Honourable Member has it right, that Bermuda has to be a place that welcomes all, it has to be a place where all can feel included and a part of a great experience.

“And the BTA, we actually had meetings in New York specifically discussing that matter, and there will be some initiatives rolled out over the next couple of months that will be continuing to address the issue.

The Minister added, “There are still some people who do not understand that Bermuda has now done something that many of our competitors have not done – guaranteed statutory rights for same sex couples.

“And I think that when I have somebody email me and say ‘I’m canceling my trip and I’m going to Jamaica,’ then clearly we have a better message to deliver.”

The Minister had also mentioned the matter last week in his statement about the meetings in New York, saying, “I also spent a great deal of time in the Bermuda Tourism Authority New York office getting up-to-speed with the public relations and social media teams, particularly as it relates to the international media coverage of the Domestic Partnership Act.

“Over the past several months my Ministry has been working with the BTA to formulate the proper response that ensures travel consumers know Bermuda is a destination welcoming to everyone – including the LGBT community.”

While Bermuda offers a legally recognized structure for same sex couples in the form of domestic partnerships, which the majority of nations worldwide do not, the fact the island had same sex marriage and then replaced it with the partnerships has been criticized for being regressive in nature, and the island has received international media coverage for being the “first country to repeal same sex marriage.”

Following the Bill’s passage in the House of Assembly in December 2017 a #BoycottBermuda hashtag began being used on social media, which spiked again following the Bill being given assent last month.

The US-based LGBTQ rights group OutRight Action International have said a “misguided reaction is unfolding”, and have called for people to not boycott Bermuda, saying the “campaign stands to hurt rather than help” and have called for people to “instead learn how to empower local organizations and the movement there.”

Last month lawyer Mark Pettingill — who represented Greg DeRoche and Winston Godwin in 2017 — filed a motion on behalf of a client challenging the constitutional aspects of the Domestic Partnership Act.

Mr Pettingill told Bernews that Roderick Ferguson, a Bermudian man living in the United States, filed this lawsuit because “the right to have a same-sex marriage has been taken away.”

The former Attorney-General maintained that as Bermuda created legislation that removes it, the Domestic Partnership Act is unconstitutional.

A crowd funding campaign is running on the CrowdJustice website to support the legal challenge, and as of this writing, 89 people have donated a total of £8,745 [$12,148].

Update: The Minister was responding to OBA Deputy Leader Leah Scott who said that while she is “not a supporter of same sex marriage” the “LGBTQ community spend money, and they spend big money.”

Audio extract of some of OBA Deputy Leader Leah Scott’s comments:

The BTA has a ‘FAQ’ page on their website about the matter, a screenshot of the page is below:

Frequently Asked Questions On Domestic

click here same sex marriage

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Comments (48)

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  1. Imjustsaying says:

    As per normal this and Government continues to embarrass this country in front of the international community.

    • MB says:

      Hahahaha are you serious jahmal??

      ” I think that when I have somebody email me and say ‘I’m canceling my trip and I’m going to Jamaica,’ then clearly we have a better message to deliver.”

      Yeah…um maybe he and his govt should have thought more seriously about that message before they caved to those good (homophobic) christians and put tourism in jeopardy.

  2. sandgrownan says:

    ““Over the past several months my Ministry has been working with the BTA to formulate the proper response that ensures travel consumers know Bermuda is a destination welcoming to everyone – including the LGBT community.”

    We think you are second class citizen, and we have enshrined in law the ability to discriminate as we see fit, but can you still please come and spend your money here?

    I’m not sure I have the language to convey the utter contempt I have for this poor excuse for a human and waste of oxygen.

  3. King Jammys says:


  4. yo says:

    we don’t support SSM but please come here and give us your money what sort a jack is that?
    that’s like saying we don’t approve of Jews or whatever group but come spend your money ,beyond ridiculous

    • peelpee says:

      “that’s like saying we don’t approve of Jews or whatever group but come spend your money ”

      That sentiment has been expressed in the past. Notice the abundance of Jewish tourists? They don’t come to Bermuda.

  5. One Who Escaped says:

    These idiots really try to spin it don’t they. It’s not what we have now that’s at issue. It’s what was taken away! If we never had the SSM right then, yes, we would be ahead of the game. But rights were stripped AWAY and no form of spin doctoring will change that fact.

    • Portia says:

      “If we never had the SSM right then, yes, we would be ahead of the game.”

      What a ridiculous comment. You are basically saying that other tourist destinations that do NOT recognize SSM or have any form of legal recognition for gay couples are better than Bermuda. Bermuda is far ahead of the curve in offering legal benefits and recognition to gay couples, it just bothers folks like you because the PLP lead the way and did it while the OBA stuck their heads in the sand.

      And FYI, NO rights have been stripped, rights have been GIVEN to gay couples where the courts failed to do so.

      • Reuben says:

        FYI, Yes the rights have been stripped, the rights that the courts gave us when the government was taken to court. So they have been stripped from us and second rate watered down version has been given instead.

        its like being told, oh your drinking the same water and the water fountains are the same but you have to drink from that while the rest of us drink from this one.

        • Portia says:

          Marriage is not a right. It’s not a right recognized by the European courts and it’s not even a right recognized by the Bermuda Constitution.

          The court ruling was flawed because it only said “Okay, you can marry” but with none of the benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples, so the Government steps in and actually GIVES gay couples all of these benefits and you call them a “second rate watered down version?” Huh?? You have all the same rights a heterosexual couple does! What do you care what label the Government chooses to give it? You are basically saying “No, I only want the right to marry! I don’t care about all the other legal benefits like pensions, survivorship benefits, hospital visitation rights and health insurance!” The fact that people refuse to acknowledge how much better off gay couples are now is testament to the fact that this is not about gay rights, it’s only about taking pot-shots at the Government by those who oppose it.

          • sandgrownan says:

            There it is, the second most stupid thing I read all day, and the bar is pretty low.

            • Portia says:

              And your counter argument is…nothing. Got it.

            • Soooooo says:

              Actually the Court Ruling gave same sex couples EXACTLY the same rights as straight couples… anything otherwise if spin… Now the Domestic Partnership Act on the other hand does NOT… Government will have to change any act that uses the work “married (or marriage)” which they have not done (and as far as I see don’t plan to)… This include the Criminal Code and the the Hospitals Act just to name two….

          • Cow Polly says:

            Portia have you ever thought that when the court ruled that in your words “okay you can marry” that it was all encompassing because the Court didn’t separate heterosexuals from homosexuals, therefore separate rights weren’t required? All that was required was an deletion of a couple of words in the Marriage Act?

            Just sayin’……….

          • Seriously? says:

            All the same legal obligations/rights given to OSC were afforded to SSC. Now however, those rights have been rescinded. Partners may no longer be considered next of kin in other jurisdictions. Which could be cause for serious alarm if a couple under the DPB were to travel and fall ill or injured. As well as issues pertaining to property and custody.

          • Standing Strong says:

            Portia! Get a life and stop hating!

          • Joe Bloggs says:

            “Marriage is not a right. It’s not a right recognized by the European courts”

            I beg to differ. Follow the link below


          • Reuben says:

            Marriage is a right, it is not a human right but it is a right. The European Courts ruled that it wasn’t wasn’t a human right but did rule that countries had to provide the right under the law or an equivalent of the right.

            The court ruling wasn’t flawed and the judge did not say “Okay you can marry”. The judge played out the clear reason in the laws why they pulled the way they did and then played out what laws would apply to homosexual couples as it does to the heterosexual couples and in certain areas the judge stated that the government would need to amend the laws to allow for the legal equality to happen. This didn’t happen cause the OBA was weak and didn’t really care about this and the PLP just chose to flat out ignore the court.

            No I want all the rights and privileges that comes with marriage under the law that a hetro couple get, do i have those rights? On paper sort of, but if i get a domestic partnership here and then move to the USA or Britain both of whom have domestic partnership on the book i would lose rights because depending on what the state of the domestic partnership laws are. I potential can lose all rights if I moved to a country that has marriage equality but no domestic partnerships as they possibly would not recognize legally the domestic partnership.

            Also with domestic partnerships because it is not marriage it can leave me exposed to companies going “well your not married so we’re not doing spousal coverage for you but instead we’ve created this partners insurance” which might be less coverage for my partner but cost us just as much if not more. Hospital visits might be effected as well cause a “righteous christian” nurse might say “No you can come in you might be his partner but visitations are for family and my faith doesn’t recognize you partnership so as far as i’m concerned you’re roommate”

            This is all about rights and making sure that we get the same rights as every one else, and had the PLP done this before the court ruling then they would be getting a lot of praise from people, i would even have agrees that they were doing something right BUT they didn’t, we did have the court ruling and they did ignore the courts and take the equality from us so they now deserve ever bit of criticism they get on this topic.

          • Bertastic says:

            Umm… I married my husband on November 6th and had insurance the following week! So what rights was I being denied?

          • Mike Hind says:

            As per usual, “Portia” is posting lies and misinformation.

            Every single time.

            Why is it so hard for you to be truthful?

      • Brad says:

        I married my Bermudians husband here in novemeber and was immediately given insurance and was able to work right away as well even with my spousal letter in process.

        All they had to do was change some
        Of the laws to include gay marriage rather than replace it.

        My marriage cert basically gaurenteed all the protections I needed.

        Now we have two sections of gay/lesbian couples: married and in domestic partnerships. We now have division in our own community.

        How does that sit well with you?

  6. Facts: says:

    Are you seriously that DENSE?! When are you going to get it through your thick skull – it’s NOT that we offer Domestic Partnerships, it’s that “we did a great thing by allowing SSM BUT THEN TOOK IT AWAY!!! That is why people are so mad and disappointed. And EMBARRASSED TO BE BERMUDIAN.

    Please stop patting yourself on the back for offering a crumb of bread to the starving kid after you knock the sandwich out of his hand.

  7. Joe Bloggs says:

    Yes, I am sure we do appear progressive when compared with some of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.

    Now how about comparing us with those countries we like to be compared with such as Canada, the UK, the US, Switzerland and the like.

    • Bermy says:

      It’s a common practice of the PLP to compare Bermuda to the USA, Canada and UK when it comes to explain things like MP’s salaries or national dept, when it comes to racism in the past, compares Bermuda to South Africa Apartheid (Racism in Bermuda was similar to the USA, where the policies were modeled after), and on with LGBT rights we are now suddenly on pare or better then the Caribbean and most African nations.

      Seriously, PLP leaderships’ mentality is truly warped, like the USA’s Republican party.

  8. puzzled says:

    Someone tell that idiot Simmons Bermuda is not in the Caribbean.
    Lord have mercy.

    • Paul says:

      Simmons, is the wrong guy for such a critical portfolio he has no personality and seems to make things up as he goes along.

  9. jt says:

    Same mindset as with immigration. We’ll take your money. We’ll openly ask you for your money. However….

  10. boston baked bean says:

    You can’t make this stuff up. Is he really serious??? Your tax dollars at work.

  11. campervan says:

    Every time this dude pipes up another DINK gay couple crosses Bermuda off their vacation list and a local loses a thousand bucks off the value of their home. Just hush now.

  12. Kevin says:

    This what you get when you have 24-12 but if JS is the best they can do and they have 24 to pick from. Better still If he is one of their best we had hope they never have to call up any of their reserves…
    And he can say that with a straight face
    I didn’t vote for them

    • Paul says:

      Kevin,you are spot on,but I think Kim Swan would be an excellent tourism minister,he has worked in the hospitality industry for many years and is very personable.

      • Standing Strong says:

        Flip Flop can sing “Bermuda is another world!”
        Not well mind you, but that doesn’t stop him.

        • Jus' Wonderin' says:

          You don’t want to know how much that trip and singing package cost the taxpayer lmfao….

  13. aceboy says:

    The comments section was full of the supporters of the reversal of gay marriage saying that their “kind” is not wanted.

    Now suddenly you get backlash from right thinking people, not the bible thumping idiots who voted you into power on your campaign promise to reverse same sex marriage, you want to change your tune?

    Two faced does not even begin to describe this government.

  14. Eve says:

    Looking at the negative numbers in BTA January visitor statistics there needs to be a good hard look at how to quickly reverse what could becoming a trend.

  15. facts of the rock says:

    man speak with forked tongue

  16. spinspinspin says:

    So the message is ‘sure, we’re regressive, but have you seen those OTHER countries?? The ones we were just like until a judge dragged us kicking and screaming into the 21st century? Those guys are WAY worse!’

    Great spin there, Jamahl. This backs up something I’ve been saying for years: Bermuda is a third world country masquerading as a first world one.

  17. Politricks says:

    Guessing that September conference and other unreported cancellations are finally beginning to hit home.

    In the world of business it is known as reputation risk, which companies do all they can to avoid. In Bermuda apparently we do all we can to crash into it head on.

    Carry on.

  18. Joonya says:

    You are an embarrassment

  19. Jared says:

    Ok….lets put this in context that you can understand.

    If there was a country that would not let a certain race have the same rights as another… What if the government says to you, you cant be like us because of your race…but we still like you and want you to give us your money! If you were part of that race, would you want to go there?

    ARE YOU JOKING… What a disgrace this government has made of this country. Honestly EMBARRASSED to be Bermudian. EMBARRASSED!

  20. Warwick West says:

    said it before…. Once this latest bit of gold hits the world headlines, Bermuda will once again be trending on twitter for all the wrong reasons……

    and who says you can’t legislate stupid?

  21. Quinton B Butterfield says:

    All this article is saying is, “Sure, you won’t be killed in Bermuda for being gay like other places, but we will still make sure to let you know how worthless as a human being you are. Sorry, we didn’t meant to say worthless.” **Eyes gay wallets**


  22. Legalgirl says:

    Put your money where your mouth is Mr Minister. What did you vote?

  23. Seriously? says:

    If there was a country that announced to the world they were against a person like you having certain things, and then made a law that enforced the fact that you were not good enough to be afforded the same things as other people of that same country…. would you book a flight to visit Mr. Simmons?

  24. Brady says:

    Better to stay quiet and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

  25. Ringmaster says:

    Why is anyone surprised? This is the same Government that opposed Pathways to Status then switched the 60/40 rule to 40/60 and begged PRC holders to invest in Bermuda. Sorry, but that won’t happen. Many PRC are retired or nearing retirement and will take their money and go overseas. No reason to stay since Bermuda won’t give them the Status they deserve.
    The PLP want to appease their voter base and at the same time appeal for help from the people they need, but abuse, and wonder why the economy is again in recession with little to show it will expand. The two Bermudas rift is likely to widen, not close.