Tourism & Living Conditions in Bermuda
For couples of same sex
So, can the gay and lesbian couples enjoy sun, sand, nightlife and other attractions in Bermuda as much as others do? The answer is YES, provided that they do not publicly disclose their sexual identity and show affections in the open. So what's the story here?
Well, it's a fact that Bermuda has passed a law in 1994 which legalized sexual activities between same sex persons. Prior to that it used to be considered a serious offense and punishable up to 10 years of imprisonment. It's also a fact that anti-discrimination laws are in effect which entitles equity in jobs and public services, which was further amended in 2013 to stop any indirect discrimination such as hate speech etc.
Then why will you almost inevitably see Bermudians frowning upon a same sex couple showing affections or even just kissing in public? It's because of the conservative society in which the islanders have grown up since the British colonial days.
Even if some residents understand how the world has changed its interpretation of human rights and partnering, this island in general seems to resist such changes to the hilt.
The churches and the political leaders have so far not accepted same sex in all aspects of life in principle and therefore the law of Bermuda does not yet permit marriages between the same sex couples. Same sex marriage is not allowed by law in Bermuda and not even on a cruise ship registered in Bermuda. In fact, same sex or transsexual couples who have married outside Bermuda, will not be recognized as married in Bermuda.
There are no gay or lesbian friendly places in Bermuda including beaches or bars. However if the gays or lesbians just act as friends and do not disclose their sex identity, they are treated at par with any other and they can have access to all fun and activities like any other, and then the Bermudians are also as friendly as they are to all else.
Essentially the same sex relationship in Bermuda is not officially recognized. It is difficult to put such recognition into effect because an opinion poll of 2010 showed that only 27% of Bermudians supported same sex marriages, while 51% did not support it, and remaining 22% preferred to remain silent.
Some facts for visiting same-sex couples
Some basic facts about Tourism and Living Conditions in Bermuda for people of same sex
Sexual activities between same sex persons are legal. However the Age of Consent (i.e. legally allowable age) for gays and lesbians to be involved in sexual activities is 18 as against 16 for heterosexuals.
Laws exist that disallow any discrimination in employment, public services etc.
Same sex marriages are not legal.
No official recognition of same sex couples/partners.
No right to change the legal gender.
Gays and Lesbians tourists are usually unaffected if they do not display affection or affinity in public.
One of the LGBT travel companies Pied Piper has been organizing vacation trips to the island for LGBT persons since 1990. Although such trips are quieter and in smaller scale, there are no issues reported as yet.
How things panned out
Update May 2015: A recent survey by Global Research Strategy Group showed that some 50% residents of Bermuda were opposed to a proposed legislative change allowing gay marriages in the island, 36% were supportive while the remaining were not sure about such change.
Update January 2016: Effective February 29, 2016 a new law comes into effect in Bermuda. According to Supreme Court ruling, a same sex non-Bermudian partner of a Bermudian will now be allowed to live and work in Bermuda, provided both are in committed relationship. This does not however address same sex marriage in Bermuda.
Update June 2016: In a referendum on June 23, over 2/3rd Bermudians voted against same sex marriage and same sex civil union in Bermuda. However since the total turn out (voters out of the total electorate) was less than 50%, the referendum could not be considered officially valid. However, it does give a clear signal from the citizens of Bermuda. In another development, the Wesley Methodist Church in Hamilton, Bermuda has opened its doors to the gay community and their supporters for a special service and mentioned that the church is open for all.
Update May 2017: On May 5, 2017 the Supreme Court of Bermuda has given a ruling that same sex marriages henceforth would be legal in the island.
Update December 2017: Even after Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Bermuda, the Assembly has recently voted 24-10 against same sex marriage and then the Senators too voted 8-3 against sex marriage. So once the final approval comes from the Governor, same-sex marriage would again be banned in the island.
Update February 2018: Bermuda becomes the first country in the whole world to revoke same sex marriages after having introduced it by law.
Update November 2018: Following a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal, Same Sex marriage has again become legal in Bermuda effective 23rd November 2018.
Update March 2022: The Government of Bermuda challenged the ruling of Court of Appeal to Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which reversed the last decision making same-sex marriage illegal once again in Bermuda effective March 14, 2022.
Chris (July 2018)
Hey Raj.... are there any gay bars in Bermuda???....how are gay people received in Bermuda???....thanks,
Hi Chris, there is no designated gay bar in Bermuda. Gay people otherwise can enjoy as much, however showing affection in the open would not be appreciated by most... you can call it Bermuda's conservatism or orthodox outlook, that is hard to change.
Susan Tull (December 2017)
After reading that Bermuda is taking away marriage equality I will NEVER spend another cent there and my entire family is in agreement. You should be embarrassed and ashamed for this action. Why would anyone want to go to such a hateful place.
Jestene (January 2015)
Hi Raj: My wife and I are thinking of moving to Bermuda, she is from there with Bermuda citizenship, I'm from the US. We are gay, but we are legally married here in US. I'm a barber and I have CDL driving license. Would Bermuda accept our license and would we be able to find jobs there. Also would we be able to live together as a married couple as we do here in the US.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) January 2015
Hi Jestene, Unfortunately Bermuda's traditionalist approach and conservative society is yet to come to terms with same sex marriages. Although anti-discrimination laws are in effect including in employment and same sex activities are legal, Bermuda has not yet amended the law to legalize same sex marriages. The reality on the ground is quite different actually. I won't be surprised if your application for a job is consistently met with silence and sometimes with arrogance. In fact, getting an apartment on rent itself may be very difficult because you won't find a landlord who accepts same sex marriages, and even if you happen to find one, the ridiculous social pressure will force him to turn you down. And in social perspective... while people are friendly, they do frown upon same sex couples showing affections in the open. Sorry to be sounding so negative, but in my personal opinion Bermuda has to go a long way before it can claim that it is open and fair to all. If I were you, I would not leave the US yet.
Jestene (January 2015)
Thank you for the response. I do see that there is a gay community in Bermuda. It is so sad that a place that beautiful is so ugly and discriminating against people who don't fit into their form. I was willing to move there for my wife so she can spend time with her family.