Bermuda: Lawsuit launched over same-sex marriage

A gay Bermudian who hopes to marry one day in his home country has launched a legal challenge against the Attorney-General for revoking his right to do so and subjecting him to “inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Lawyers for Rod Ferguson, a single man who lives in the United States, filed a lawsuit yesterday afternoon with the Supreme Court, claiming that the new Domestic Partnership Act was unconstitutional.

The Act, which replaces same-sex marriage with civil unions, was approved by Parliament in December and given Royal Assent by John Rankin, the Governor, on February 7.

It reverses a Supreme Court decision from May last year that enabled gay people to wed here — a judgment won after gay couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche litigated against the Registrar-General for refusing to post their wedding banns.

The lawsuit states that the effect of the new Act “is to subject the applicant to inhuman or degrading treatment”. It seeks orders of redress under section 15 of the Constitution.

Mr Pettingill said: “What Mr Ferguson is saying in his application is that he is being denied his constitutional rights. He doesn’t have the protection of law under the Constitution that he once had. He is an openly gay man that one day would like to marry and he’s barred from doing that. We have filed against the Attorney-General on the question of the legality of the Bill.”

The lawyer said the case had the potential to end up in Europe’s highest courts. The argument there, he said, would not be about whether Bermuda legally had to allow gay couples to marry, but about those couples being allowed to marry and then having the right taken away from them. Read more via Royal Gazette