Post submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, former Associate Director, HRC Global
The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, a collection of small North Atlantic islands, will hold a non-binding referendum on marriage equality and same-sex civil unions on Thursday. Since the results will be non-binding, the government will not be required to take action based on the results. Many activists are opposed to the referendum which would give a majority the chance to possibly curtail the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
Bermuda has made several attempts in the last few decades to advance LGBTQ rights. Consensual sex between men was decriminalized in 1994, but the age of consent remains higher for same-sex couples. In June 2013, Bermuda banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but the law did not include protections based on gender identity. An attempt to introduce marriage equality was voted down in Parliament that same month.
In March, Tony Brannon of the advocacy group Same Love Bermuda wrote to HRC warning about the activities of conservative, anti-LGBTQ U.S. extremists like Brad Harrub in Bermuda. Harrub and other right-wing activists have visited Bermuda in recent months, attempting to foment anti-LGBTQ animus in advance of the referendum. Harrub has speciously claimed that marriage equality could lead to the spread of paedophilia, bestiality and polygamy. Harrub is part of a group of American extremists working tirelessly to undercut LGBTQ people around the world.
HRC will be closely following the referendum results in Bermuda. Stay tuned for updates later this week. You can also follow HRC Global’s work by signing up for the newsletter HRC Global News here.