Bermuda has become the first national territory in the world to rollback same-sex marriage. The British overseas territory's governor signed legislation into law Wednesday night that replaces same-sex marriages with domestic partnerships.
Rights groups said the move was unprecedented on the world stage, and stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry, while politicians in Britain expressed profound disappointment, calling it a "backwards step" for human rights in Bermuda. The island's minister of home affairs said the law gave same-sex couples "equivalent" rights to heterosexual married couples.
Same-sex couples had been able to marry on the remote North Atlantic Ocean island – home to around 65,000 people – since a supreme court ruling there in May last year, which led to protests on the socially-conservative territory.
The previous year, two-thirds of voters had rejected same-sex marriage in a referendum, although turnout was low at below 50%. Then last December, Bermuda's senate and house of assembly passed legislation by wide margins to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships.
Bermuda's minister of home affairs, Walton Brown, said in a longer statement that the new law gave same-sex couples the "equivalent" rights of married heterosexual couples, including over inheritance, access to property rights, and the ability to make medical decisions on a partner's behalf.
"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 recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples." Read more via Buzzfeed