Column: Why Do We Still Need IDAHOBIT?

May 17, 2022

[Opinion column written by Dr. Lucie Fremlova]

The 17th May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Lesbophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. It has been celebrated annually since 1990. The day itself, 17th May, was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation in 1990. Yet, as we reflect on this day 32 years later, LGBTIQ couples in Bermuda remain second-class citizens who can no longer marry.

If every heterosexual couple, married or planning to get married, could imagine the following scenario for a moment: You have a wonderful civil wedding ceremony, you get legally married. You treasure your marriage certificate like gold, only to be told four years later by the government that your marriage will most likely be voided and replaced by another type of legal union, which you did not opt for or enter into. ‘Another type of legal union’ replacing same-sex civil marriage refers to domestic partnership and the 2018 Domestic Partnership Act introduced by the Bermuda Government.

The government has spent almost half a million dollars to appeal a decision legalising same-sex marriage, made by its own Supreme Court in 2017. You are then told that domestic partnership is as good as marriage; and that the Domestic Partnership Act is one of the best pieces of legislation there is in the world. However, you did not opt for or enter into a domestic partnership. And why should you? How would this make you feel? Would you be ok with it?

This makes Bermuda the first country in the world to give its LGBTIQ citizens and residents the right to marry and then to take it away on 14th March 2022, when the Privy Council agreed with the Bermuda Government. Since then, most LGBTQI couples have been living in a legal vacuum and limbo, not knowing what the near future will bring. Many in our close-knit community will have friends or family members who are in this predicament, but have we really considered what these couples are going through as they sit and wait to find out if their marriages are null and void?

Bermuda rainbow gavel timeline IG 2 March 14 2022

While Bermuda has made much progress with respect to LGBTIQ rights and equality over the past decade and a half, the latest decision is a major setback to much of the outstanding work done by LGBTIQ individuals and organisations such as OUTBermuda and their predecessors, Two Words and a Comma.

If, indeed, the government bans same-sex couples from getting married – voiding existing valid marriages entered into before the DPA took effect – and gives them a separate piece of legislation, it sends a dangerous signal to the public, saying that LGBTIQ Bermudians are second-class citizens. That makes LGBTIQ people in Bermuda even more vulnerable to individual and structural expressions of homophobia (as well as biphobia and transphobia), be they verbal or physical. This is the case especially with LGBTIQ Black Bermudians who experience an intersection of racism and homophobia.

It needs emphasising that same-sex marriage and marriage equality relate to people’s ability to conclude civil, not religious marriages: an administrative task performed by the state towards its citizens and residents. The only conditions that must be met are that one should be 16 or over; free to marry; and not closely related to one’s intended spouse. Sexual orientation shouldn’t and, indeed, doesn’t play any role in this respect, nor should it be a ground for different treatment.

- Dr. Lucie Fremlova is a sociologist and a resident of Bermuda

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Comments (7)

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  1. Unknown800k says:

    Some opinions may have changed now. BUT the hypocrits won’t cone forward.

    You’ll figure it out

  2. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Why Do We Still Need IDAHOBIT?”

    Because a vocal minority of Bermudians remain homophobic and the PLP Government will not stand up for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community.

    Indeed, the PLP Government will spend tremendous amounts of money we do not have to make sure that members of the LGBTIQ+ community are treated as second-class citizens.

    • saud says:

      It’s willful discrimination against a small subsection of society…by a government who claim that they’re oppressed.
      The missing word is Hypocrite…which perfectly describes these privileged supremacists in government.

  3. BDABOY says:

    I’m a True, Born Bermudian.
    I am an accredited Engineer.
    I have patents under my name, and a wall of awards.
    I pay taxes to, and live in another country.
    Bermudians have been very clear, gay Bermudians, like me, are not welcome.

    Best of luck Bermuda, the rest of the world laughs at you.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      I am sorry you feel that way, BDABOY. It is only a vocal minority of Bermudians who despise you and your kind.

      The majority of us would welcome you home.

      • BDABOY says:

        Thank you.

        It’s time to school the vocal minority….some ‘word of the day’ toilet paper would do a world of good.

  4. trufth says:

    Well to be fair, this govt has no idea what it is like to be discriminated against, segregated, treated as 3rd class citizens, or made to feel bad because of the way they were born.

    I mean c’mon, do you really think someone who knows what all of this feels like pay nearly 1/2 a million dollars to do the same to someone else?