Post submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, former Associate Director, HRC Global   

In the coming months, the small British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, a collection of small North Atlantic islands about 700 miles east of North Carolina, will hold a referendum on marriage equality and same-sex civil unions.

On February 29, Bermuda’s Premier Michael Dunkley announced that the government would hold a referendum on marriage equality and civil unions. The results of the referendum will not be binding. The Royal Gazette of Bermuda reported that the referendum would be held in June this year.

“The people of Bermuda are divided on the issue of same-sex relationships,” Dunkley told the House Assembly. “Before taking any further action, the Government requires some clarity. Holding a referendum on the issue will provide a clear understanding of the will of the people.”

Over the past few decades, Bermuda has made several attempts to advance LGBT rights. Gay male sex was decriminalized in 1994, but the age of consent remains different and higher for same-sex couples. In June 2013, Bermuda banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but did not include gender identity. Additionally, an attempt to introduce marriage equality introduced in June 2013, but was voted down.

While the referendum gains momentum, opposition remains. Shadow Minister of Health Michael Week went so far as to compare same-sex marriage and civil unions to opening the door to bestiality, an outrageous suggestion that the government’s community minister shot down.

In a message to HRC, Tony Brannon of Same Love Bermuda, an advocacy group, expressed deep alarm about Brad Harrub's, a conservative American Christian preacher, recent trip to Bermuda. On his visit, he gave a lecture claiming that marriage equality could lead to the spread of paedophilia, bestiality and polygamy.

Despite the opposition from within Bermuda and American anti-LGBT preachers like Harrub, Brannon added that marriage equality “could possibly be won in a referendum” if more than half the electorate turns out to vote.

Unfortunately, Harrub is a part of a group of American extremists who are working tirelessly to undercut LGBT people around the world at every turn. They spew venomous rhetoric, outrageous theories, and discredited science. Learn more about the Export of Hate here.

Filed under: International, Marriage

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