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Britain refuses to intervene as Bermuda repeals same-sex marriage

Bermuda’s South Shore as seen from the Wyndham Hotel

The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda this week became the first self-governing region in the world to abolish same-sex marriage, rolling back equality less than a year after a court ruling led to gay weddings.

"The act is meant to strike a fair balance between two now irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples", said Brown, whose ruling PLP party proposed the repeal. The Bermuda Senate approved the domestic partnerships act last December.

Walton Brown, minister of home affairs, said the legislation reflects the resistance to same-sex marriage from the socially conservative island, while complying with European court rulings that recognize and protect same-sex partners in the territory.

'The act is meant to strike a fair balance between two now irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples, ' Mr Brown said.

They further hold that the domestic partnerships amount to a second-class status and it is complete discrimination to take away the legal right to marry after it has been granted.

"This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda's global reputation and economy", said Cobb.

The minister added the same-sex couples married between last May's supreme court decision and the new law coming into affect would continue to be recognised as being married.

The government is refusing to overturn a decision by Bermuda to ban same-sex weddings which will also mean gay couples of all nationalities can not marry on many cruise liners.

The Bermuda governor said that the new reflects the opposition to same-sex marriage among votes.

"The Domestic Partnership Act permits any couple (heterosexual or homosexual) to enter into a domestic partnership and gives same-sex couples rights equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples; rights that were not guaranteed before the passage of this Act", the statement continued.

The move ended weeks of speculation over whether Britain would allow the legislation, and dashed the hopes of activists in Bermuda and overseas who had asked Mr Rankin to reject the new law.

Labor MP Chris Bryant labelled the bill a "deeply unpleasant and very cynical piece of legislation". When it was passed, he said it would severely undermine U.K.'s efforts to advance LGBT rights.

However Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin told the Commons on Thursday that while the government was "disappointed" with Bermuda's decision, Johnson had decided it "wouldn't be appropriate" to intervene.

Joe Gibbons, a 64-year-old same-sex "married" Bermudian, commented, "This is not equality, and the British government has obviously just said, 'This is not our fight'".