Also see: Caribbean Anti Violence Project
LGBT Bermuda links and information:
The Bermuda Human Rights Alliance
Gay Travel in Bermuda
GayBermuda.com (disabled at this time)
Think twice before planning a holiday on Bermuda. Although many gays live in and visit Bermuda, the island is rather repressive to homosexuals. Displays of affection by same-sex couples will be frowned upon at public beaches and most hotel pools, restaurants, or attractions. If you want really happening gay beaches, bars, and clubs, head for South Miami Beach, Key West, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, a series of islands that are much more accepting of homosexual relationships. For most of its existence, Bermuda had harsh penalties against male homosexuals, making sex between consenting legal-age males a crime subject to imprisonment. Lobbying against such a harsh measure, The Bermuda Human Rights Alliance, a Bermuda gay and lesbian group, helped to bring about a repeal of the criminal code. Since an assembly vote in the Bermuda Parliament, sex between men over the age of 18 is now legal.
Ten Foot Square
Gay Travel in Bermuda
Bermuda is well known for is reserve and unfortunately, this reserve extends to a certain degree to sexual orientation. Until a few years ago, Bermuda was not really welcoming to gays. The truth is, even today, it can be said that Bermuda is not the best place if you are looking for some gay action.
Nevertheless, there are many gays who live and visit Bermuda. Yet open displays of affection between same sex couples will definitely be frowned upon whether you are at the beach, hotel, restaurant, or bar. Still, not all is lost to gay travelers. As lobbyists continue their efforts for equality for gays, more and more acceptance is being gained.
Though you won’t be refused outright at hotels for being gay, there are some hotels which are more “gay-friendly” than others. Small hotels include: Pompano Beach, The Reefs, and Harmony Club. If you prefer larger hotels, then try Grotto Bay, Elbow Beach, Fairmont Hamilton Princess, and the Fairmont Southampton. As for cottage colonies, some of the best to stay in would be Astwood Cove, Munro Beach, Four Ways Inn, and Ariel Sands. A good guest house to stay in would be Aunt Nea’s Inn.
The nightlife in Bermuda can be as good as in other bigger cities of the world. However, as already mentioned before, you may encounter some disapproval in certain locations. A polite and reserved people, Bermudians wouldn’t probably be outrightly rude towards a gay couple. Yet of course, you want to enjoy your stay as much as possible right? So here are some “gay-friendly” hang out spots which you can visit during your stay.
If you want to relax over a cup of coffee try the Rock Island Coffee Café at 48 Reid Street in Hamilton. They are open everyday except Sunday from 7 am to 6 pm. For a night of fun in town, visit Casey’s Lounge at 25 Queen Street in Hamilton. Wednesday and Friday nights are the best time to go there. Alternatively, you can go to Square One, located behind the Tuscany Restaurant in Hamilton. You have the choice of dining inside or outside as you sip luscious cocktails and take in the ambience.
If something classier is what you are looking for, Little Venice is the place for you. With a fully stocked wine bar, you can choose from the very best wines around the world. Look for this taste of Italy at 32 Bermudian Road in Hamilton. Open from 12 noon onwards Monday to Friday and 6:30 pm onwards on Saturdays.
Visit the newest and hottest club in Hamilton – Splash.You can find Splash on the Bermudian Road right next to Portofino Restaurant. Listen and dance to the latest hits from the US and the UK as well as local music. The best DJs are to be found here so if this is your kind of gig, you shouldn’t miss out on Splash. They are open until the wee hours of the morning – 3 am. If you dine at the Portofino restaurant, your entrance to Splash will be complimentary.
June 23, 2006
Bermuda leaders advocate gay rights bill
A ruling party lawmaker in Bermuda said she will try again to pass a gay rights bill, a month after a similar measure failed in the British territory’s Parliament.
Renee Webb of the Progressive Labor Party said her proposed amendment to the territory’s Human Rights Act of 1981 has support from some members of her party and the opposition United Bermuda Party, and she hoped to get a new vote on the issue in November. The amendment, which would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, has drawn opposition from religious groups.
Last month, lawmakers defeated a similar bill in a voice vote, sparking a protest at the capitol by some 300 demonstrators who criticized Parliament for not debating the proposal. " I think [legislators] will take the matter more seriously in November and look at all the issues and come down on the side of passing the bill," said Webb, who was one of only two lawmakers to speak on the issue before the May vote.
Bermudian Premier Alex Scott has called the amendment unnecessary, saying the Human Rights Act already covers all Bermudians. But he also said he would reconsider his position if the courts ruled that gays and lesbians were not protected by the law.
Dale Butler, Bermuda’s minister for human rights, said he would vote for the amendment but didn’t think it would pass because members of Parliament are afraid of voter backlash.
August 1, 2006
Bermuda’s colonial Governor attempts to sway opponents in Parliament of legislation to protect the rights gays
Bermuda’s colonial Governor, Sir John Vereker, has quietly attempted to sway opponents in Parliament of legislation to protect the rights gays.
In May lawmakers defeated overwhelmingly a bill that would have included gays and lesbians in the colony’s human rights law. he vote sparked a protest at the capitol by some 300 demonstrators who criticized Parliament for not even debating the proposal.
The backbencher who proposed the bill, Renee Webb of the Progressive Labor Party, said she will attempt to bring back a new version of the measure.
Legally Vereker cannot directly intervene but asked about the legislation by The Royal Gazette newspaper he said that "The UK expects of the Overseas Territories the same standard of human rights that British citizens enjoy in the UK. We have regularly made that clear. "I do think there is a role for the UK in human rights issues," he said. Also, he has met "informally" with members of the government.
Vereker said that he suggested that a revised bill should be worded "generally" and not name specific groups. "If the Government of Bermuda were to introduce legislation to amend the human rights act in the sense of ‘discrimination on any grounds’ that would be entirely consistent with the British Government’s approach to the human rights issue." The first attempt to pass the bill was vocally opposed by churches on the island. Vereker said that more general wording would make it harder for the churches to object. While his compromise might win the support of the government Webb says she has no intention of "watering down" her bill.
10 October 2006
Bermuda church denies "gay bashing" plans
A church conference in Bermuda has promised to steer clear of “gay bashing.” Churches in Bermuda were planning to boycott a multi denominational service on human rights because they fear it may unfairly target homosexuality. A third of churches believe the service, organised by United By Faith, will preach that the Human Rights Act should not protect sexual orientation.
The meeting, involving around 70 per cent of the island’s churches, next Saturday will discuss gang violence, human rights and the role of the church, Organiser Andre Curtis has immediately denied that their will be any unfair targeting of people, he told the Royal Gazette: “There will be no gay bashing and no-one is being unfairly targeted.” All of the churches on the British territory were invited, but the Anglican Church declined the invitation saying it was inappropriate.
The Bishop of Bermuda, Reverend Ewan Ratteray wrote in a letter, “Part of the agenda for this service seems to be to target particular members of our society, homosexuals, in a way that is deemed to be inappropriate.“ Mr Curtis says he is disappointed the clergyman will not attend the event to see for himself, he said: “The Bishop has been invited to the meetings that are being held for the service and chosen not to attend. Had he attended, he would be fully aware there will be no gay bashing and that no-one is being unfairly targeted. He is unfortunately speculating and not speaking from an informed position.”
The meeting comes after government backbencher Renee Webb tried have sexual orientation added to the anti-discrimination clause in the Human Rights Act, the move was defeated in Parliament and was opposed by the church. Ms Webb expressed delight that the meeting was being boycotted, she told the Royal Gazette: “I am pleased to note that there are religious leaders who understand the importance of promoting equality in our society and that to target the homosexual is not only unconscionable, it is tragic, particularly when it would appear that the homosexual is being targeted while liars, cheaters and adulterers, all of whom attend churches up and down this country are being ignored.”
April 18, 2007
Anti-gay sentiment in Bermuda?
The chairman of Bermuda’s Tourist Board isn’t happy about anti-gay sentiment in the country, which prompted Rosie O’Donnell’s vacation company Tuesday to cancel a summer cruise there.
"I think it will certainly make us appear to be an island who selects who we want to come and visit us, and I don’t think that’s appropriate," the board chairman, E. Michael Jones, told Bermuda’s Royal Gazette for a story published today. "As a tourist destination Bermuda needs to be welcoming to all those who want to come and visit us."
Religious leaders, by contrast, are thrilled with the decision of Rosie’s company, R Family Vacations, says the paper. A statement by a consortium of 80 island churches called it a "victory for God." The statement says island churches had been "praying for this since (the cruise) was first announced and have had intercessors praying both here and abroad . . . We are thankful God intervened and anticipate greater blessings upon Bermuda."
R Family Vacations, which offers trips for gays, lesbians, their families and friends, had planned a cruise to Bermuda in July aboard a chartered ship, the Norwegian Dawn. But in a statement Tuesday, the company scratched Bermuda as its destination, citing worries about protestors meeting the ship following complaints from local religious groups. The ship will sail for Florida and the Bahamas instead. "We feel that Bermuda is welcoming to gay and lesbian tourists," the statement said. "However, there is a minority of vocal churches who do not welcome us."
Tourism officials clearly are worried that the incident could be a blow to tourism.
Tell us, Cruise Loggers: Have you experienced anti-gay or anti-lesbian sentiment while in Bermuda? Do you find Bermuda accepting of a diverse array of people? Keep in mind that this is a travel blog –please save the political discourse for a more appropriate forum
Bermuda stresses its gay-friendly credentials
23rd April 2007
by Tony Grew
The Premier of Bermuda has said gay people are welcome on the island after a cruise for gay families cancelled plans to visit later this year. The cruise, hosted by lesbian comedian Rosie O’Donnell, was the focus of faith-based protests when it visited the Bahamas in 2004. Bermudan church groups had promised action against the visiting gay families.
"Bermuda is a democracy that welcomes all people of all races, colours, creeds, and sexual orientation," Premier Ewart Brown said in a statement. "While the government of Bermuda has done everything we can to welcome the Rosie O’Donnell-hosted cruise, we understand and respect their decision, however saddened we are by it. We stress to the international community the Bermudian government’s position of inclusion and acceptance of all who wish to visit our beautiful and friendly country."
The ship was scheduled to stop at the island after departing from New York on July 7th. Rosie O’Donnell has been arranging cruises for gay and lesbian families since 2004 and her success was documented in 2006 in the HBO show All Abroad Rosie’s Family Cruise. The company that organises the events supported the Premier’s comments and said he had phoned them personally about their decision to cancel.
"We know it is a small group of churches that do not welcome us. R Family Vacations has no issue with Bermuda. Anyone who asks me if Bermuda is gay-friendly I will respond ‘yes,’" Gregg Kaminsky, CEO, told The Royal Gazette. "I have received many emails and phone calls from people, including the Premier, letting us know that we are welcome and it is much appreciated. However, we are concerned with some of the churches’ comments and we did not want our guests to experience a similar situation that occurred in Nassau in 2004."
Andre Curtis of United By Faith had previously summed up the combative mood of some church groups on the island:
"We may just choose to pick them (the cruise passengers) up by bus and bus them to our church, to different denominations, and have the pastors pray for them," he said, according to The Royal Gazette.
It has emerged that a New York-based travel company will be visiting Bermuda next month with a group of around 30 gay men on board Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas."We’ve escorted many gay groups to Bermuda on cruises before and have not had any problems. We’ve always found the Bermudian people to be very friendly," Derek Bergl of Pied Piper told the Bermuda Sun.
International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association executive director John Tanzella told the Sun:
"Bermuda is a very lovely island with wonderful people, but it does have the reputation for being anti-gay and hence gay travellers avoid spending their vacation money there. IGLTA has no member hotel properties or businesses on the island and that is certainly visible on our website for gay travellers."
Bermuda is one of fourteen British Overseas Territories which are under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, but not considered part of the UK itself.
2nd July 2007
Two words and a comma would enshrine gay rights
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
Human rights activists in Bermuda have launched a campaign to add sexual orientation as a protected grounds of discrimination under the country’s Human Rights Act. They want to insert an amendment to the Act, which advocates say amounts to not much more than two words and a comma. A group describing themselves as ‘concerned citizens’ has now launched Two Words and a Comma, a campaign to include sexual orientation in the legislation. In May 2006 MP Renee Webb brought a private member’s bill before the House of Assembly. Her fellow MPs greeted it with silence and it was not debated, sparking protests and heated discussion among Bermudans.
The cancellation of a visit to the island by a gay family cruise has ensured that gay issues have remained at the top of the news agenda in the small British overseas territory of just 66,000 people. The cruise organisers were put off the island by the threats of church groups to picket their arrival. Many other Bermudans were horrified that their country was being painted as homophobic, and Anglican and Catholic churches distanced themselves from the evangelical churches. The Premier of Bermuda said gay people are welcome on the island. The cruise, hosted by lesbian comedian Rosie O’Donnell, was the focus of faith-based protests when it visited the Bahamas in 2004.
"Bermuda is a democracy that welcomes all people of all races, colours, creeds, and sexual orientation," Premier Ewart Brown said in a statement. "While the government of Bermuda has done everything we can to welcome the Rosie O’Donnell-hosted cruise, we understand and respect their decision, however saddened we are by it. "We stress to the international community the Bermudian government’s position of inclusion and acceptance of all who wish to visit our beautiful and friendly country."
The ship was scheduled to stop at the island after departing from New York on July 7th. In October, United by Faith (representing 70% of Bermuda’s churches) held a national service on the direction of the country with the human rights amendment at the top of their agenda. Anglican Bishop the Rt. Rev. Ewan Ratteray said: “Part of the agenda for this service seems to be to target particular members of our society, homosexuals, in a way that is deemed to be inappropriate.” Last year an editorial in the country’s leading newspaper, the Royal Gazette,
supported a change to the Human Rights Act:
"Either we are all equal before the law or the law can be manipulated to deem that certain groups are, in effect, not human – not worthy of the rights the rest of us enjoy," it read. "If we decide homosexuals aren’t human today, who do we go on to dehumanise tomorrow?" The Human Rights Commission entered the discussion to dispel the myth that sexual orientation was already covered under the act.
In November, during a series of events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Human Rights Act, an open-topic forum was completely dominated by the issue of sexual orientation. Bermuda’s gay community attended in force and gave testimony to the realities of their daily lives in the country. Protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was first considered when the Human Rights Act was formulated in 1981. The debate raged again following the controversial Stubbs Bill in 1994, which decriminalised homosexuality in Bermuda. Since then groups such as the Rainbow Coalition and the Human Rights Alliance have advocated for issues which affect the gay community.