Ber­mu­di­ans vote no to same-sex unions

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The re­sults of Wed­nes­day’s ref­er­en­dum showed a clear “no” vote for both same-sex mar­riages and same­sex unions in Ber­muda, but with less than half the reg­is­tered voters turn­ing out to cast their bal­lots, the gov­ern­ment says the ref­er­en­dum ques­tions were “unan­swered”.

The is­land’s 44, 367 reg­is­tered voters were asked to vote on two ques­tions: Are you in favour of same-sex mar­riage in Ber­muda? Are you in favour of same-sex civil unions in Ber­muda?

Of those who cast their bal­lots, 14,192 voted “no” to same-sex mar­riage, while 6,514 voted in sup­port of it; while there were 13,003 “no” votes for civil unions and 7,626 in favour.

But the voter turnout was only 46.89 per cent – 20,804 peo­ple – and, ac­cord­ing to the Ref­er­en­dum Act 2012, “a ref­er­en­dum ques­tion shall be taken to be unan­swered if less than 50 per cent of the per­sons reg­is­tered in the par­lia­men­tary reg­is­ter vote at the ref­er­en­dum.”

“With yes­ter­day’s ref­er­en­dum, Ber­muda has ex­pressed its demo­cratic right to vote on two ques­tions that have been the fo­cus of dis­cus­sion and de­bate for more than a year,” Premier Michael Dunk­ley said on Thurs­day.

“And with the re­sults in­di­cat­ing a ma­jor­ity ‘no’ vote, and a less than 50 per­cent turnout, the gov­ern­ment will now con­sider the next step that re­spects and re­flects the views of the peo­ple.”

The ref­er­en­dum had al­ways been ex­pected to be “non-bind­ing”.

Dunk­ley said that he ex­pects the re­sults to trig­ger court chal­lenges in Ber­muda.

“There has been much dis­cussed, much said and much shared through­out our com­mu­nity re­gard­ing the is­sue of same sex re­la­tion­ships. And what is ev­i­dent is that there are very pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cates for and against the mat­ter. This has been and will con­tinue to be a highly sen­si­tive mat­ter,” he added, ex­press­ing the hope that even in dis­agree­ment on the is­sue, those on ei­ther side of the di­vide can con­tinue to be re­spect­ful and civil and the coun­try can progress.

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