‘Marry in Haste …’: The (Partial) Abolition of Same-sex Marriage in Bermuda


In 2018, the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda revoked the right to marry for same-sex couples. In a judgment that reconceives the relationship between sexual orientation and religious freedoms, the Bermuda Supreme Court and Court of Appeal found this revocation to be unconstitutional. I explore the political and legal context in which same-sex marriage was granted and then revoked in Bermuda. I also consider the Bermuda Courts’ judgments in light of the subsequent judgment of the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court in Steinfeld, among others. While there was an assumption from both the Bermuda and United Kingdom Governments that the revocation provision was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, I argue that this underestimates the significance of the distinction between declining to recognise a right to same-sex marriage and revoking a right that has already been exercised. While the European Court of Human Rights has not yet found the absence of same-sex marriage to be a violation of Article 12 of the Convention, I argue that the revocation of a right to marry between same-sex couples that had been recognised in accordance with national law changes the terrain on which the Convention arguments would be made.