Shipping line backs bid to overturn Bermuda’s same-sex marriage ban

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The world’s largest cruise line shipping company, Carnival Cruises, says it is now committed to overturning the ban on same-sex marriage in Bermuda, following pressure from LGBT+ campaigners in Bermuda and Britain.

Carnival Cruises has confirmed that it is co-ordinating with OUTBermuda, the local LGBT+ human rights group, to assist their legal appeal against Bermuda’s new anti-gay marriage law. Carnival is also promising to reach out to other travel businesses to urge their support.

In a statement, Carnival said: “As a company committed to equality, inclusion and diversity….our engagement includes providing OUTBermuda with financial, civic and public relations support.”

OUTBermuda has responded by acknowledging that it has “strong support and allies….(we are) proud to work with Carnival Corporation.”

Earlier this year, the Bermuda legislature was the first in the world to reverse the legalisation of same-sex marriage. It had previously been legalised by the Bermudan courts which ruled that the ban was unconstiutional.

The new law prohibiting gay marriage also applies to the twenty-four ships that Carnival Cruises and its subsidiaries, Cunard, Princess and P&O, have registered in Bermuda.  Same-sex couples may no longer marry on these ships and can only be offered the lesser status of domestic partnership.

London-based American human rights lawyer, Jamison Firestone, who lobbied Carnival, said:

“I wish Carnival Cruises and OUTBermuda success in righting this injustice. Carnival must bring significant pressure to bear on the government of Bermuda, including the promise to register its ships elsewhere if the law is not overturned. Staying registered in Bermuda if the legal appeal fails would be a betrayal.”

Mr Firestone teamed up with human rights and LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell to support Bermudan LGBT+ groups. They urged Carnival Cruises to not meekly comply with the denial of marriage equality. Firestone and Tatchell called on Carnival to re-register its ships in jurisdictions that embrace marriage equality.

Mr Tatchell added:

“This is a small but significant move by Carnival Cruises. We welcome its commitment to support the legal challenge to secure marriage equality in Bermuda. We salute the work of  OUTBermuda and its local and regional allies and wish them legal victory.”

Mr Firestone concluded:

“As a human rights lawyer and as a citizen of the United Kingdom recently married to a same-sex partner, I simply do not feel comfortable taking a cruise on a ship registered in a jurisdiction that does not accept my marriage.”