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British Virgin Islands Joseph Chapman carries his nation's flag during the opening ceremony of the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Lawmakers in Bermuda voted to ban same-sex marriages months after they were legalized


Bermuda’s Senate on Wednesday gave final legislative approval to measure that would ban same-sex marriage on the island months after its legalization.

Bermudan senators approved the Domestic Partnership Act in an 8-3 vote after the British territory’s House of Assembly backed it 24-10 last Friday.

John Rankin, who governs the Atlantic Ocean island, must next sign the measure before it becomes law.

The measure allows only domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, and it comes six months after Bermuda’s highest court approved marriages for them.

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Bermuda’s supreme court ruled in favor of the practice last May, only for the Progressive Labor Party to take power there two months later.

The Progressive Labor Party is backed by many traditionally conservative church organizations in Bermuda, and it began mobilizing legislative force to reverse the court’s ruling.

Wednesday’s vote marks a rare rollback of same-sex marriages in jurisdictions that have allowed them worldwide.

Bermuda is a self-governing British territory, but most of mainland Britain legalized same-sex marriage in 2014, except for Northern Ireland, which has not followed suit.

The New York Times on Thursday reported that the Domestic Partnership Act is not retroactive, meaning it will not impact same-sex marriages following May’s ruling.

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Bermuda has seen at least six same-sex marriages since that time, when Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled against banning the unions.

“[Banning them] is inconsistent with the provision of the Human Rights Act as they constitute deliberate different treatment on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said.

Opponents of Wednesday’s legislation argued that global reaction to the change could hurt Bermuda’s tourism industry.

Critics also charged that stripping the right to same-sex marriages after a jurisdiction had permitted them was unprecedented.

The Domestic Partnership Act’s supporters stated that the legislation reflects public opinion on the socially conservative island.

At issue is whether it is discriminatory allowing same-sex couples only domestic partnerships rather than marriage as another option.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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