The island of Bermuda has become the first nation in the world to repeal marriage equality.
Bermuda’s governor approved a bill that scrapped the right of gay couples to marry in the British overseas territory following a Supreme Court ruling last year.
The law change won’t annul the marriages of any same-sex couples who have already wed, but those who want to tie the knot will now only be able to access “domestic partnerships”, which the government says offer equal rights.
The government cited a lack of public support in a June 2016 referendum that was held in the country but ruled invalid because of the low turnout.
“The Act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently 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,” Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown said.
Same-sex marriage was originally achieved in Bermuda in May, after Winston Godwin and his fiancé Greg DeRoche (pictured) challenged the rejection of their marriage application in the Supreme Court.
Local LGBTIQ group Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said the domestic partnership legislation creates a “watered down” version of rights and exists to “placate conservative religious lobbyists.”
“We hope to still welcome LGBTQ visitors to our beautiful island, but understand that many will refuse to travel in a place where they are seen as second-class citizens,” the group said.
The global arm of LGBTIQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign slammed the lawmakers for stripping same-sex couples of the right to marry.
“Governor Rankin and the Bermuda Parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality,” HRC Global director Ty Cobb said.
“This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda’s international reputation and economy.”