In an unprecedented move, the British Island territory of Bermuda has become the first country in the world to repeal same-sex marriage.

The step backward was officially signed into law by Bermuda’s governor, John Rankin, effectively replacing same-sex marriage with so-called “domestic partnerships.”

The act which offers same-sex couples similar rights to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples puts a stop to those couples unions being recognised as marriage by the state.

Outraged by the decision, Human rights activists, say that it is unacceptable to reverse an existing right and that barring same-sex couples from full marriage recognition is discriminatory.

The move comes less than a year after the Bermuda Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from marrying was in contravention of the country’s Human Rights Act.

With a June 2016 referendum showing that 51% of Bermudians voted against legalising both same-sex unions and marriages, the Bermuda government now believes, that by banning same-sex marriage and instead allowing same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships it is striking a balance between recognising same-sex relationships while respecting the nation’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

Walton Brown, Bermuda’s Minister of Home Affairs, said in a statement that the domestic partnerships legislation affirms “that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples.”

Brown added that the eight or so same-sex couples “already married under Bermuda law before the commencement date of this Act will continue to be recognised as being married.”