LONDON — The U.K. government expressed disappointment Thursday that Bermuda has abolished same-sex marriage, but said it would have been wrong to overturn the decision by the British island territory.
Bermuda’s Senate and House of Assembly passed legislation replacing same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships in December, and the island’s U.K.-appointed governor, John Rankin, signed it into law Wednesday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, said Britain was “seriously disappointed” by the decision, which reverses a 2017 court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
But he said it would not have been right for Britain to block the move.
He said the bill “has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government.”
Some opposition politicians criticized the government, saying Britain should have intervened to prevent the change, which they called discriminatory. Labour Party foreign affairs spokeswoman Helen Goodman said the legislation was “shameful” and “turns same-sex couples into second-class citizens.”
Foreign Office Minister Harriett Baldwin said “after full and careful consideration” the government had decided not to block the legislation.
She said Britain’s powers to intervene with laws in its overseas territories “can only can be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even then only in exceptional circumstances.”