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