LGBT rights in Bermuda

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LGBT rights in Bermuda
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1994,
age of consent not equalized
Gender identity/expression No recognition of gender identity (see below)
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption -
Military service Allowed (see below)
Discrimination protections None (see below)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Bermuda face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT persons. Homosexuality is legal in Bermuda, but the country has long held a reputation for being anti-gay,[1][2] and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity is also legal.

Laws against homosexuality

Prior to 1994, gay male sexual conduct were punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Following the passing of the Stubbs Bill in that year, gay male sexual conduct were legalised in Bermuda, but with a higher age of consent for gay male sexual conduct at 18, than the age of consent of 16 for heterosexual and lesbian sexual conduct.

Gender identity/expression

There is no legal recognition of "gender identity", and thus, by omission, no protection from discrimination.[3] The ability of persons to express their gender identity is often difficult; for example, in 2006, the government attempted to ban Mark Anderson, also known as the drag queen "Queen of Bermuda" Sybil, from participating in a parade, stating that he contradicted local mores and sensitivities.[4] In mid-2009 it was announced that gay Bermudians would be participating in Pride London, with a estimated 30 LGBT London residents from Bermuda marching,[5] and that it hoped to follow in Anderson's footsteps and participate in a future Bermuda Day parade; gay Bermudians doubted, however, that there would be large-scale participation due to fears of repercussions against their families.[6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships

There is no official recognition of same-sex couples. In 2004, the government made it clear that same-sex civil unions, much less same-sex marriage, would not be considered.[7]

Socially, the situation is hard enough that some gay residents have chosen to emigrate, particularly to London in the United Kingdom (of which Bermudians are citizens), in order to be able to openly be in same-sex relationships. One such emigrant noted that gay relationships have to essentially be secret, with partners introduced only as "friends" and relationships between two Bermudians as being very difficult.[8]

Military service

The Bermuda Regiment does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, as it is formed by random lottery-style conscription. Officially, members of the Regiment are prohibited from discriminating against or harassing gay soldiers;[9] such activities, however, are tolerated by officers, to the extent that one conscript described the Regiment as "the most homophobic environment that exists".[10]

Discrimination protections

Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is legal;[11] despite repeated recommendations by Bermuda's Human Rights Commission that the government change this.[12] In late 2004, the Government of Bermuda promised to amend the Human Rights Act to cover sexual orientation,[13][14]—but by late 2005 the matter appeared to have been quietly dropped,[15] until the following year. In 2006, an amendment to the Human Rights Act was proposed in the House of Assembly of Bermuda, but the Parliament of Bermuda refused to even discuss the issue.[16] In April 2007 an activist group called "Two Words and a Comma" was formed to pressure the government of Bermuda into amending the act.[12] Following his sudden resignation from Cabinet in 2009, former Culture Minister Dale Butler raised the issue of the amendment, saying that he had intended to table an amended Human Rights Bill in Fall 2009, but that it was now the responsibility of new Culture Minister Neletha Butterfield to re-table to do so; Butterfield responded that she was still being apprised of the workings of the Ministry and so could not comment on future plans.[5] In November of that year, following a mention in the annual speech from the throne that the Human Rights Act was to be amended, a rumour circulated that this would include protection for gays.[17] Premier Brown's press secretary appeared to confirm the rumour, but it was refuted by both the Human Rights Commission and Minister Butterfield, who commented that a sexual orientation clause was still under investigation.[18]

Bermudians have tried to appeal to the Parliament of the United Kingdom regarding LGBT discrimination,[3] prompting the Foreign Affairs Committee to recommend that the British government should take steps to extend human rights in the British overseas territories (BOT), for which the UK is ultimately responsible.[19] Bermuda's human rights in general do not have a favourable reputation; In mid-2008, Bermuda was the only BOT to refuse to join a four-year human rights initiative organised by the Commonwealth Foundation.[20]


Tourism is a significant aspect of Bermuda's economy. In 2007, LGBT R Family Vacations, with the support of Premier and Minister of Tourism and Transportation Dr. Ewart Brown,[21] considered making Bermuda one of its destinations, seemingly oblivious to the previous year's events. A close ally of Brown, Andre Curtis, who ran a controversial "Faith-Based Tourism" initiative for the Premier, opposed the visit,[22] organising some eighty churches into an interfaith group called "United by Faith" to protest the planned trip[23] alongside the country's African Methodist Episcopal churches.[24] R Family decided to change the itinerary to replace Bermuda with two stops in Florida and a private island. Kaminsky stated Ironically, Bermuda has actually been the host of gay tourism for many years. The LGBT travel company Pied Piper, for example, has been organising trips — albeit on a smaller and much quieter scale — to the country since 1990, without incident.[2]

See also

External links

  • Two Words and a Comma Political advocacy group for protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation


  1. Gay Bermuda - GayTimes
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gay cruisers will still come to BDA. Bermuda Sun (April 20, 2007).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Smith, Brenda Lana (January 29, 2008). Human Rights in the Overseas Territories. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  4. Neill, Scott (May 25, 2006). "Queen of Bermuda" reigns on parade. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 O'Connor, Clare. "New Culture Minister now responsible for sexual orientation amendment to Act", 3 July 2009. 
  6. Huish, Sirkka. ""Bermuda's gays plan Pride parade on island", 3 July 2009. 
  7. Titterton, Sarah (February 28, 2004). Island will not consider legalising gay unions, says Minors. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  8. Huish, Sirkka. ""I could never be open about my sexuality at home and had to move to London"", July 3, 2009. 
  9. Bermuda Regiment Standards of Conduct
  10. Strangeways, Sam (May 26, 2006). Bill's supporters stunned by defeat. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 8, 2009. 
  11. Mayers, Eloisa (March 31, 2004). Gays want human rights, not marriage. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Northcott, David (22 March 2008). Submission from David Northcott, on behalf of Two Words and a Comma, Bermuda. House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
  13. Johnson, Ayo (November 1, 2004). Gays to get human rights protection. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  14. Johnson, Ayo (November 2, 2004). Gay rights move applauded. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  15. Wells, Phillip (October 6, 2005). Equal rights for gays. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  16. Hundreds demonstrate against MPs' gay rights 'silence'. Bermuda Sun (June 2, 2006). Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  19. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (June 18, 2008). Seventh Report of Sessions 2007-2008: Overseas Territories 8, 81–91.
  20. Jacobs, Trent (August 19, 2008). Caymanian to lead the Caribbean rights effort. Cayman Net News. Retrieved on May 3, 2009.
  21. Bourke, Amy (3 April 2007). Rosie's gay cruise is backed by Bermuda's leader. Pinknews. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.
  22. Smith, Tim (April 24, 2008). UK Christian group critical of faith-based tourism. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  23. Dale, Amanda (March 30, 2008). Rethink opposition to gay cruise, churches urged. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  24. Jones, Glenn (March 24, 2007). AMEs launch the first salvo against the Rosie cruise. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.


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