‘Extend Transitional Period To 14th March 2022′

June 17, 2022 | 2 Comments

[Updated] Amendments tabled today will “extend the transitional period to 14th March 2022 to confirm the validity of same sex marriages formalized according to the law of Bermuda prior to the date of the Privy Council judgment,” Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban said.

This follows after five years of legal proceedings which culminated earlier this year when the Privy Council in the UK — Bermuda’s highest court of appeal —  decided in favour of the Government, which in effect, was not in favour of legalizing same sex marriage.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [June 17] the Minister said, “I am tabling the Bill entitled the Domestic Partnership Act 2022, to amend the transitional period of the Domestic Partnership Act 2018 in light of the Privy Council judgment

“The transitional period was defined as the period from 5 May 2017 [the date of the Supreme Court judgment in Godwin and DeRoche v The Registrar General and others] until immediately before the commencement date of the principal Act on 1 June 2018.

On 14 March 2022, the Privy Council overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal,” the Minister said. “This cast doubt on the validity of same sex marriages conducted in Bermuda or on Bermuda registered ships since 1 June 2018, and the recognition in Bermuda since that date of overseas same sex marriages.

“The uncertainty over the validity and recognition of same sex marriages potentially has widespread negative effect on the rights previously enjoyed by the couples involved who were married lawfully under the law as it existed at the time, and who may suffer the loss or interruption of certain rights and benefits. It is therefore not tenable to leave the Act as it is without making the appropriate amendments.

“The intention of these proposed amendments is to extend the transitional period to 14th March 2022 to confirm the validity of same sex marriages formalized according to the law of Bermuda prior to the date of the Privy Council judgment, and to recognize certain same sex marriages formalised overseas during the extended transitional period.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, today I am tabling the Bill entitled the Domestic Partnership Act 2022, to amend the transitional period of the Domestic Partnership Act 2018 [‘the principal Act”] in light of the Privy Council judgment in Attorney General for Bermuda v Ferguson and others.

Mr. Speaker, section 53 of the principal Act, provides that a marriage is void unless the parties are respectively male and female.

Mr. Speaker, section 54 of the principal Act provided for a transitional period [a] during which certain same sex marriages entered into in Bermuda or on Bermuda registered ships would be valid, and [b] before or during which certain overseas same sex marriages could be recognised in Bermuda. The transitional period was defined as the period from 5 May 2017 [the date of the Supreme Court judgment in Godwin and DeRoche v The Registrar General and others] until immediately before the commencement date of the principal Act on 1 June 2018.

Bermuda rainbow gavel timeline IG 2 March 14 2022

Mr. Speaker, on 6 June 2018, the Supreme Court [Kawaley CJ] determined that section 53 was unconstitutional, but his judgment was stayed pending appeal. On 23 November 2018, the Court of Appeal upheld the Supreme Court decision [though on different grounds] and refused to extend the stay previously granted by the Supreme Court. Consequently, from that date same sex marriages conducted in Bermuda and on Bermuda registered ships were not invalidated by section 53, and certain overseas same sex marriages could be recognised in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, on 14 March 2022, the Privy Council overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal and determined that section 53 was not unconstitutional. This cast doubt on the validity of same sex marriages conducted in Bermuda or on Bermuda registered ships since 1 June 2018, and the recognition in Bermuda since that date of overseas same sex marriages.

Mr. Speaker, the uncertainty over the validity and recognition of same sex marriages potentially has widespread negative effect on the rights previously enjoyed by the couples involved who were married lawfully under the law as it existed at the time, and who may suffer the loss or interruption of certain rights and benefits. It is therefore not tenable to leave the Act as it is without making the appropriate amendments.

Mr. Speaker, the intention of these proposed amendments is to extend the transitional period to 14th March 2022 to confirm the validity of same sex marriages formalized according to the law of Bermuda prior to the date of the Privy Council judgment, and to recognize certain same sex marriages formalised overseas during the extended transitional period.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

Update: “The One Bermuda Alliance is pleased to see the Government responding to our call to confirm the legal status of existing same-sex couples who marriages were left in limbo by the Privy Council’s judicial decision,” says Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Scott Pearman.

“After the OBA called for the Government to clarify the legal position, Minister Roban today tabled legislation to confirm the validity of relevant marriages occurring between the introduction of the PLP’s Domestic Partnership Act in 2018 and the Privy Council’s 2022 decision.

“Responding to parliamentary questions posed by myself, as to why there remains a six-month excluded period between June and November 2018, Minster Roban also confirmed to the House that this was because there were no marriages during that period.

“The Deputy Premier’s response to the Opposition’s request will no doubt bring relief to all those who entered into marriages before the Privy Council’s 2022 decision and whose marriages were in limbo as a result of that judicial decision.”

Mr Pearman continues: “It would be unconscionable for any existing, valid marriage to be voided.

“It is right that the legal position is now being confirmed by the Government for all those who observed the law of the land as it stood at the relevant time.

“It is regrettable that people will have experienced anxiety over an issue so important to their lives. This new law should give all necessary assurances.”

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  1. Rig says:

    Such an embarrassment for Bermuda, truly dark ages.

    Just let people get on with their lives, love is love – any love.

    • Jasmine says:

      So true. The church has a lot to answer for. Absurd that they preach love, when we all know it has more hatred than anyone.

      Never more true here.

      Shame on you David Burt too, the buck stops with you.

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