The Privy Court in London, which serves as the highest appeals court for many of the UK’s island territories, refused to challenge the courts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, effectively saying the islands can interpret their constitutions how they see fit. There were ongoing legal battles in both countries to allow same-sex marriage, which ultimately made their way to the UK court.
The decision came as a blow to many on the islands who are fighting for LGBTQ rights and were hoping the UK would help enforce same-sex marriage since the UK itself allows it. According to NBC News, Roderick Ferguson, lead co-plaintiff in the legal case against the law in Bermuda, said in a statement released by the LGBTQ advocacy group, OUTBermuda, “Our supporters often say ‘love wins.’ This time it didn’t…Our work as a society is not done until everyone’s humanity is recognized both in law and in life.”
It’s sad that homophobia, fear, and bigotry are taking root all over the world and that the UK didn’t use its power to fight for change. However, it’s also true that social views around colonialism and imperialism have also drastically changed. The concept of majority-white western nations being able to make decisions for foreign countries has become incredibly inflammatory, so it’s possible the UK has chosen not to challenge the constitution of the Cayman Islands or Bermuda because it doesn’t want to get involved in the debate that could come from that.
The nations – Bermuda especially – tend to be conservative and have never been in favor of LGBTQ equality. If the UK were to force gay marriage on the islands, it would be a decision that a majority of the population wouldn’t want, which could lead to claims of imperialism and cause an uproar.
Still, it’s a shame to see equality lose once again in an era when it seems LGBTQ rights and being lost across the globe.