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Privy Council hears appeal concerning same-sex marriage

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has reserved judgment in an appeal brought by the Bermudan Government as to the validity of same-sex marriage in the British Overseas Territory.

In a hearing on 3 and 4 February the Judicial Committee heard that the Bermudian Parliament passed the Domestic Partnership Act 2018, which provided for same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships and declared that a marriage is void unless the parties are respectively male and female. The respondents, who are individuals affected by the legislation and a Bermudian church which supports and conducts same-sex marriages, applied to the Supreme Court of Bermuda for a declaration that the provisions of the 2018 Act which purported to revoke same-sex marriage contravened the Bermudian constitution.

The Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled in favour of the respondents, holding that s. 53 of the 2018 Act contravened sections 8 and 12 of the Bermudian constitution. The Court of Appeal for Bermuda allowed the Attorney General's appeal in part only, holding that s. 53 of the 2018 Act contravened section 8 (but not section 12) of the constitution, but the Court also held that s. 53 was void on the grounds that it was enacted for a religious purpose. The Attorney General has now appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The respondents are seeking to cross-appeal for a declaration that the 2018 Act contravenes section 12 of the constitution.

For an article concerning the case, click here.