Bermuda has forbidden same-sex marriage, only nine months after legalizing it, in what advocates for gay and lesbian rights called a disappointing setback.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Bermuda, a British overseas territory, in May as a result of a ruling by the island’s Supreme Court.
But the unions are unpopular with some voters.
In 2016, Bermudians voted against same-sex marriage in a referendum, and after the court ruling in May, the territory’s legislature drafted a bill banning same-sex marriage but giving all couples legal recognition as domestic partners. Parliament adopted the Domestic Partnership Act in December, and on Wednesday the territory’s governor, John Rankin, signed it into law.
The British prime minister, Theresa May, said Britain was “seriously disappointed,” but the Foreign Office said on Thursday it would be inappropriate to block the measure.
Same-sex marriage became legal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014, but it is not permitted in Northern Ireland. The issue has been divisive in Britain’s overseas territories, which control their own internal affairs but rely on Britain for defense and for representation in the international community.
International human rights groups and supporters of same-sex marriage condemned the reversal.
“This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda’s international reputation and economy,” said Ty Cobb, director of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group in the United States.
A local advocacy group, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, said the Domestic Partnership Act provided a “watered down” version of rights. “Ultimately, no separate-but-equal measure allows for equality or justice,” the group said in a statement.
Winston and Greg Godwin-DeRoche, a couple who brought the lawsuit that ended up before Bermuda’s Supreme Court last year, voiced their disappointment in an Instagram post. “It’s a sad day for Bermuda, it’s a sad day for human rights,” they said. (Although the couple prevailed in court in Bermuda, they ultimately married in Canada, though they still live in Bermuda.)
Eight same-sex marriages that took place in Bermuda between May and now will remain recognized under the new law.
Reached by phone, Winston Godwin-DeRoche said that the legislation was an improvement on the situation before last May, but that it was a setback.
“The problem is, when you are giving a community these rights, you are allowing them to get married — and then less than a year later, you are taking them away,” he said.
His husband, Greg Godwin-DeRoche, said: “It’s frustrating in so many ways. Human rights are not compromisable.”
A few months ago, as Parliament considered the legislation, the Bermuda Tourism Authority urged lawmakers to uphold same-sex marriage. On Thursday, some on social media were calling for a travelers to avoid the island in protest. Some used the hashtag #BoycottBermuda.
Faith Bridges, a lesbian Bermudian who owns an inn, said the decision affected her personally and professionally.
“Of course as a hotel owner and as a member of the L.G.B.T. community, I am disappointed by the outcome of this decision,” Ms. Bridges said. “I had hoped our local government would not have allowed the majority to decide on a human rights issue.”
But she urged gay-rights supporters not to boycott Bermuda, saying it would be counterproductive.
“I will love who I choose to love and I will marry who I choose to marry,” said Ms. Bridges, who is in a long-distance relationship with a woman in Kansas. “If I can’t do it in my country I will do it in another.”