Bermuda, Cayman Islands Ban on Gay Marriage Upheld by London Court

A United Kingdom appeals court upheld gay marriage bans in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands on Monday.

The U.K.'s Privy Council, which serves as the final appeals court for several Caribbean islands, ruled that both islands' bans on gay marriage were constitutional, according to the Associated Press.

The decision deals a heavy blow to the islands' LGBTQ communities, which had hoped for a more favorable opinion from the court. The court's ruling allows anti-LGBTQ measures to continue in the Caribbean, which have forced some LGBTQ community members to leave the area and have even had a negative impact on local economies.

Bermuda's highest court ruled in 2018 that the territory's Domestic Partnership Act, which allows same-sex couples to have domestic partnerships but not to get married, violates the constitution's "freedom of conscience," Reuters reported. However, the Privy Council said in its ruling that the island's constitution "is not interfered with by the state failing to legally recognize same-sex marriage."

In a statement by OUTBermuda, Roderick Ferguson, one of the main plaintiffs in the case against the Domestic Partnership Act, said, "Our work as a society is not done until everyone's humanity is recognized both in law and in life."

"Our supporters often say 'love wins,'" he said. "This time it didn't."

In the Cayman Islands, a same-sex couple took legal action after saying their inability to marry violated the territory's Bill of Rights. However, in its decision, the Privy Council said the Bill of Rights "has been drafted specifically to make it clear that it applies only to opposite-sex marriage."

A 2021 study by Open for Business makes the case that "inclusive societies fare better economically." According to the study, anti-LGBTQ discrimination costs the English-speaking Caribbean between $1.5 billion and $4.2 billion every year, or 2.1 to 5.7 percent of the region's collective GDP. The study cites decreased tourism due to anti-LGBTQ laws and skilled LGBTQ workers leaving the region as some of the main reasons why this is the case.

In a 2018 report by Human Rights Watch, members of the LGBTQ community in the Eastern Caribbean described a combination of discriminatory laws and social aspects like discrimination from family, church and school, as well as the threat of physical violence, as reasons why many opt to leave the area.

In OUTBermuda's statement, Deputy Chair Zakiya Johnson Lord said the organization's members will continue to fight for LGBTQ rights.

"We hold our heads high," Lord said. "Our struggle is unfinished, but our message resounds with the love that strengthens our families, our community, and all of Bermuda. There is little doubt that the work we do, including occasionally advocating in the courts, has helped highlight the unfairness and inequalities facing our community."

Update 03/14/22 12:35 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

Court Upholds Bermuda Gay Marriage Ban
A United Kingdom appeals court upheld gay marriage bans in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands on Monday. Above, two wedding rings on a rainbow cloth. Stock Image/Getty Images