Carnival Cruises backs bid to overturn Bermuda’s same-sex marriage ban

The cruise line, Carnival Cruises, says in a press release today that it’s committed to overturning the ban on same-sex marriage in Bermuda, following pressure from LGBT campaigners in Bermuda and the UK.

Carnival Cruises confirmed that it’s coordinating with OUTBermuda, a local LGBT human rights group, to assist in a legal appeal against Bermuda’s new anti-gay marriage law. Carnival also promises to reach out to other travel businesses for support. In the 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 Stance

OUTBermuda 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 first to reverse the legalization of same-sex marriage. Legalized previously by the Bermudan courts which ruled the ban unconstitutional. The new law prohibiting gay marriage also applies to the 24 ships that Carnival Cruises and subsidiaries, Cunard, Princess, and P&O, have registered in Bermuda. Same-sex couples may no longer marry on these ships and only offered the lesser status of domestic partnership.

Human Rights Activists Take

London-based American human rights lawyer, Jamison Firestone, 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 [overturning the law fails]. Staying registered in Bermuda if the legal appeal fails would be a betrayal.”

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

“This is a small but significant move by Carnival Cruises,” said Tatchell. “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.”

“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,” concluded Firestone.

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