Bermuda ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional, London tribunal says

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Rod Attride-Stirling (L), a lawyer who successfully challenged legislation banning gay marriage, poses for a photograph with gay rights supporters Judith Aidoo-Saltus (2nd L), Winston Godwin (3rd L), Maryellen Jackson (3rd R), Zakiya Johnson Lord (2nd R) and Adrian Hartnett-Beasley in front of court after the hearing, in Hamilton, Bermuda November 23, 2018. REUTERS/Emma Farge

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March 14 (Reuters) - A London tribunal on Monday ruled that a 2018 Bermuda law that bans same-sex marriage in the British overseas territory is constitutional, a departure from the broad trend towards legalisation of gay marriage in the West.

Bermuda's top court in 2018 ruled that the 2018 Domestic Partnership Act, which allows same-sex couples to form partnerships but prohibits them from marrying, violates constitutional freedom of conscience.

London's Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for British territories, ruled on Monday that the constitution does not in fact require the state to recognise same-sex marriages, in response to an appeal by Bermuda's government.

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"Our supporters often say 'love wins.' This time it didn't," said Roderick Ferguson, lead co-plaintiff in the legal case against the law, in a statement by LGBTQ advocacy group OUTBermuda. "Our work as a society is not done until everyone's humanity is recognized both in law and in life."

OUTBermuda called on the government to clarify how it will treat same-sex marriages that had been lawfully performed since 2017. The Bermuda court's 2018 ruling had suspended the prohibition.

"The Government is pleased with the outcome of the appeal," Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Kathy Simmons said in a statement. "The Government will now take time to consider the full judgment and its impact."

Authorities in Bermuda, a wealthy, socially conservative island in the Atlantic of 60,000 people, have said that domestic partnerships provide the same rights as marriage. Thousands of people support the gay marriage ban.

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Editing by Nick Macfie and Kenneth Maxwell

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