Bermuda delays the repeal of marriage equality for three months

Government official implied delay was connected in part to same-sex weddings already planned through the island’s lucrative tourism industry

NEW YORK - GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, released the following statement following the news that Bermuda is delaying the repeal of marriage equality until the end of May 2018. Walton Brown, Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs, connected the delay, in part, to the island’s lucrative tourism industry stating, “Commencement has been delayed to allow for any same-sex marriages that have licenses already issued and have been scheduled to be conducted in Bermuda, or on-board Bermuda-registered ships, to actually take place.”

“The repeal of marriage equality in Bermuda is a demeaning and unnecessary strike against loving and committed LGBTQ couples in Bermuda as well as others around the world who would consider vacationing there,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “This small walk-back by the Bermudian government to accommodate previously-planned weddings shows that pressure from the tourism industry could have tremendous power if they collectively speak out for marriage equality.”

After the repeal was announced in February, GLAAD called on the cruise industry to take action in outlets including CNBC, saying: “It is now imperative for international businesses that play major roles in Bermuda’s economy, such as cruise lines and the travel industry, to make their voices heard. Several cruise lines that bring tourists to Bermuda not only contribute largely to Bermuda’s tourism industry and economy, but they have long histories of standing with and marketing to LGBTQ people. These brands and their business leaders should demonstrate true leadership and stand for those customers they’ve courted by helping to combat this harmful decision.”

In 2017, tourism contributed $431 million to the island’s economy, up 20% from 2016, according to a report from The Research and Business Intelligence team of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. This puts cruise lines and other major corporations involved in the tourism industry in a unique position to take an influential stand against this repeal of LGBTQ rights. 

Especially in light of this delay which shows government officials are taking the tourism industry into consideration as they move forward with this discriminatory new law, it is imperative for international businesses that play major roles in Bermuda’s economy, such as cruise lines and the travel industry, to use their leverage to raise their voices in objection. Corporations and business leaders can have a powerful impact when they stand firm and denounce attacks on LGBTQ equality, which was seen first-hand with the fight against anti-trans laws in both Texas and North Carolina.

About GLAAD: GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBTQ community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBTQ people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.