A judge has made a landmark ruling for same-sex couples in Bermuda.
The Supreme Court in Bermuda has ruled that those in same-sex relationships with Bermudians should be granted the same rights to live and seek employment as their heterosexual counterparts, according to The Royal Gazette.
The ruling comes after legal action was brought against both the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General by The Bermuda Bred Company.
The company – which describes itself as a group of Bermudians involved in “binational relationships” – argued that Bermuda’s Immigration and Protection promoted discrimination on the grounds of marital status or sexual orientation.
The company said this breached the Human Rights Act, which disallows such discriminative action.
They claimed that under the current law Bermudians in long-term same-sex relationships had no right to have their foreign partners residing and working in the British island territory.
Passing judgment, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of the company.
“These provisions purported to authorise the minister to regulate the entry into Bermuda of long-term foreign partners of Bermudians which discriminated against those Bermudians who were unmarried or in same-sex relationships,” he wrote.
“The direct discrimination was self-evident and quite obvious. No or no coherent counterargument was advanced on behalf of the respondents,” he added.
“Because same-sex marriage was neither possible nor recognised under existing Bermuda law, the relevant statutory provisions discriminated against Bermudians in stable same-sex relationships in an indirect way.”
The move has been welcomed by LGBT activists across Bermuda, although the government attempted to postpone the judgement by a parliamentary year, fearing it could lead to further equal rights for LGBT Bermudians.
However, the judge said they have now have two weeks to respond to his ruling.
“We firmly believe in equality in these areas and in levelling the playing field for same-sex families,” said a spokesperson for the Bermuda Bred Company.
“The effect of the decision is very specific: the non-Bermudian same-sex partners of Bermudians, who are in committed relationships, are entitled to live and work in Bermuda without immigration restriction,” they added.
“The decision does not deal with the recognition of marriage equality.”