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  • Rainbow Friendly Directory

    A listing of LGBTQ-friendly companies, charitable organizations, social hangout spots, and other resources in Bermuda and online. More

  • Photo History of the Issues in Bermuda

    The Allan Vincent Smith Foundation kept news clippings of stories, articles, and advertisements relevant to the issues they (and we) support... More

  • Events

    As the group evolves we will be promoting various events centered around providing a safe space to Bermuda's LGBTQ community and its allies. More

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to Referendum Results

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to acknowledge the outpouring of love and support for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community in response to the referendum on marriage equality. We have always maintained that a referendum is not the appropriate vehicle for this kind of human rights issue, and the failure to get enough of a voter turn-out proved this exercise to be a colossal waste of taxpayer funds.

While many countries have deemed marriage a heterosexual-only institution, over 76 of them also include anti-LGBTQ legislation that endangers the lives of LGBTQ people. This is not an example to follow. Bermuda is a much smaller community than the 20+ countries that have already changed legislation to provide marriage equality. The referendum results show an opportunity for more education around LGBTQ issues and equity. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda now renews our call to urge the Government to show leadership on this issue. We will continue to advocate for marriage equality but we now expect the courts to quickly fill the vacuum left by the politicians’ cowardice.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is grateful for an end to the divisive and often-hurtful campaigning that this exercise has inspired. The discourse has included homophobic and transphobic attacks on the humanity of LGBTQ people through intellectually dishonest and sometimes hateful propaganda.

Particularly, we want to tell the young LGBTQ community that the island’s majority failing to speak for them does not mean that they are in any way unworthy. You are amazing and deserve love without constraints within a supportive society. We want to tell the LGBTQ Bermudians that could not vote on their rights because they have been forced to leave for more accepting communities: we miss you, we love you, and we want to make home a safer place. LGBTQ family, you matter, and love will ultimately win.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will remain committed to creating safer spaces and advocating for equity for the LGBTQ community.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is made up of a diverse group of young Bermudians that are involved in many areas of other social justice advocacy and community work. There are no official spokespeople and all statements are written collaboratively. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is not a charity and does not seek funding. For more information visit www.rainbowbermuda.org

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Statement on the Referendum

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to acknowledge the outpouring of love and support for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community in advance of the referendum on marriage equality. While our position remains that the rights of an oppressed minority should not be voted on by a majority that is not impacted by the outcome, we strongly encourage supporters to nonetheless vote yes/yes in the referendum.

The results of this referendum are non-binding and no matter how it turns out, we will be grateful for an end to the divisive and often-hurtful campaigning that this exercise has inspired. Regardless of the results, The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will remain committed to creating safer spaces and advocating for equity for the LGBTQ community.

Our approach towards justice has always been one of intersectionality (tackling interlinked systems of oppression) and love. We hope that following this referendum, the significant amount of resources and energy that have been dedicated towards campaigning can be redeployed towards the many issues that are currently devastating our community.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is made up of a diverse group of young Bermudians that are involved in many areas of other social justice advocacy and community work. There are no official spokespeople and all statements are written collaboratively. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is not a charity and does not seek funding. For more information visit www.rainbowbermuda.org 

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to Referendum Announcement

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda condemns the Bermuda Government’s move to have a referendum on marriage equality. We agree with the assessment of the Centre for Justice that a referendum is an inappropriate method for making human rights decisions that impact a small minority of Bermuda’s population.

The proposed Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act 2016 would effectively legislate discrimination, as pointed out by the Human Rights Commission. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda stands by the HRC’s analysis and underscores that inequality cannot be enshrined in Human Rights Law. It appears that the OBA government is attempting to fix this poor legislation with another cowardly route away from equity for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) people.

If the government maintains that marriage is between a man and a woman, how are they also suggesting that civil unions are a viable comparison for same-gender-loving couples? During the information session on February 15, Minister Pamplin-Gordon said in reference to taking the question to the people of Bermuda: “Many human rights have had to be fought for by minorities [...] What we don’t want to do is to put ourselves as a country in the situation in which a majority of people say that we are willing to trample on the rights of a minority [...] That would specifically be in violation of the preamble that we have to our human rights act [...]: ‘Recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family[...]‘” We are saddened to find that her words were merely lip-service to equity.

To quote the former Premier Cannonier when he declared that the referendum on gaming would be cancelled, “This matter is too important for political games.” A referendum on marriage equality seems like a political move by a party afraid to show leadership on a human rights issue. In December 2013, the OBA government broke its campaign promise for a referendum on gaming. Since then, there have also been calls for referendums on immigration reform, education, and cannabis reform. It is hypocritical that the government decide to play political games with the legal rights of a minority of oppressed individuals.

The Finance Minister has only just shared the debt Bermuda is faced with during the recent Budget. Referendums cost approximately $350,000. This issue should not be decided by such a costly means.

Similarly, with many LGBTQ Bermudians forced to leave home because of the very discrimination we seek to solve, it is likely that a referendum will not have an accurate reflection of those that will be impacted by the decision. We hope that if the Government proceeds with this disappointing referendum, that they hold it during the summer holidays, which would allow a chance for some students who are typically abroad to have a say in this matter. If it does turn out that a majority of Bermudians do support marriage equality, we would expect Government to remove its objectionable policy regarding civil unions and to legislate marriage equality fully.

Prolonging this decision for a referendum also ushers in more months of campaigning full of rampant homophobia and transphobia that will cause considerable mental anguish and heightened discomfort for the LGBTQ community. Particularly, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to underscore how damaging a continuation of hateful rhetoric will be on LGBTQ youth that are simply trying to exist in a country that forcefully tells them they are somehow abnormal. We affirm the existence of our young LGBTQ Bermudians and encourage them to remain hopeful about the future: it gets better.

We urge the OBA to reconsider this hasty course of action.

As always, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda remains committed to providing safer spaces for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community. It is made up of a diverse group of young Bermudians that are involved in many areas of other social justice advocacy and community work. There are no official spokespeople and all statements are written collaboratively.

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to “Preserve Marriage Bermuda”

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda supports the rights of all people in Bermuda to have their consensual, loving relationships between two individuals recognized and protected – regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Bermuda courts have already supported this position, ruling that refusing to recognize same-sex partnerships amounts to discrimination – a stance which we wholeheartedly stand by.

A referendum on this issue disregards the struggle of minority groups in human rights issues. Why should an unaffected majority decide the extent to which an oppressed minority can access their rights? Fundamental rights and freedoms are in place to protect minorities against the shifting passions of the majority. Referenda pose a danger to the protections afforded to minority groups through legislative and judicial means. Preserve Marriage‘s rhetoric shows a need for a better understanding on how to be accepting of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s eloquent writing from the US Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges shows how important allowing same-sex marriage is to the community at large:

“As all parties agree, many same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted. … Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children [...] suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Preserve Marriage’s media campaign against same-sex marriage is offensive and riddled with skewed statistics. For the many non-heterosexual young people and adults in Bermuda, Preserve Marriage’s homophobia is further entrenching the daily exclusion and alienation already faced. It is unfortunate that with the multiple serious issues Bermuda is currently facing, a group of individuals would use such a significant amount of resources to advocate to prevent a recognized segment of the population from being able to benefit from rights and freedoms afforded to the majority.

The Rainbow Alliance will continue to support the rights of LGBTQ+ persons in Bermuda to have safe spaces available and to educate the community on LGBTQ+ issues.

“The conversation on [the legal right for marriage equality] has NOTHING to do with my Christian beliefs.”

“The conversation on whether or not men should have the legal right to marry men or whether women should have the legal right to marry women has NOTHING to do with my Christian beliefs.”

We received this heartfelt letter of support from Justin D Brangman, a Bermudian who attended the Ministry of Community, Culture & Sports’ Information Session on Same Sex Marriage on Monday September 28. Thank you Justin.

Continue Reading…

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to Liberty Theatre Event + Further Reading

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda strongly condemns the hate speech promoted by Ayo Kimathi at the “African History & Culture Come Alive” event hosted at Liberty Theatre, as reported in the Royal Gazette.
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has been cited as a human rights abuser by Amnesty International, amongst other human rights organisations. Allegedly playing a video of this man suggesting that members of the LGBTQ community should be subject to the death penalty is equivalent to inciting violence within Bermuda’s community. President Jammeh is not an example of the kind of leadership Bermuda needs, and his model of violent homophobia does not deserve applause.
Mr. Kimathi’s suggestions that homosexuality is a “white sex” crime introduced to Africa by European colonizers is historically inaccurate. There is documentation of normalized homosexuality in Congo, Madagasgar, Ethiopia, Pangwe (present-day Cameroon and Gabon), Ghana, Sudan, South Africa, Egypt, Benin, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, amongst other countries. What the European colonizers did import to Africa is homophobia and hateful attitudes towards natural sexual orientations.
The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda has gathered a variety of information on the topic of homosexuality in pre-colonial Africa and will list articles and books for further reading for anyone interested on their website.
The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda remains committed to promoting safer spaces in Bermuda for the LGBTQ community. We look forward to the series of discussions on marriage equality on Monday, September 28 and Thursday, October 1.

 

Further Reading:

Homosexuality is not un-African, by Sylvia Tamale, Aljazeera America

Homosexuality un-African? The claim is an historical embarrassment, by Eusebius McKaiser, The Guardian

If you say being gay is not African, you don’t know your history, by Bisi Alimi, The Guardian

The idea that African homosexuality was a colonial import is a myth, by Bernardine Evaristo, The Guardian

Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism Un-African or Unnatural?  by Yemisi Ilesanmi, FreeThoughtBlogs.com

Boy-Wives and Female Husbands - Studies of African Homosexualities, Edited by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe Palgrave for St. Martin’s Griffin

Heterosexual Africa?: The History of an Idea from the Age of Exploration to the Age of AIDS, by Marc Epprecht, New African Histories

 

 

Are you using the correct LGBT terms? You might be surprised!

Since 2004, the terms gay and lesbian have increased in search by more than 32%. In the same time, the term transgender has increased in frequency by more than 240%. With so many terms becoming more frequent in the popular lexicon and in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, Grammarly partnered with GLAAD to lay out the do’s and don’ts of LGBT parlance. The following infographic will help you better understand how to discuss LGBTQIA issues in a culturally aware and sensitive way.

The challenge of being gay in Bermuda

By Carla Zuill, for Bermuda Sun

The month of June signified Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month worldwide. It is observed every year in honour of the 1969 Stonewall riots, which took place in New York City.

On June 24, the Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with the Consulate General of the United States, hosted a panel discussion at the Bermuda College. The standing-room only crowd had the opportunity to talk about LGBT rights and tolerance on the island with the aim of having respectful, open and frank dialogue.

Recently, Carla Zuill spoke with three Bermudians who are openly gay. Each shares a bit of insight into their lives and how they have coped with being gay in Bermuda.

Continue Reading…

Showing off a world of Pride

An estimated 12,000 people walked, danced and rode along the downtown parade route capping off 10 days of World Pride celebrations.

The “Queen of Bermuda” came ready to talk politics as well the importance of celebrating World Pride and, unsurprisingly, showed up dressed to kill.

“I’m from a country that at one time it was legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation,” said Sybil Barrington, one of an estimated 12,000 people who walked, danced and rode along the parade route that capped off 10 days of Pride celebrations.

Barrington, clad in tight iridescent pants, a sash and tiara, explained that a little over a year ago the government in Bermuda amended the human rights act to legally protect people against discrimination because of their sexual orientation when they are seeking employment or housing.

“So we are here celebrating that,” said Barrington, who was born in Bermuda and, after establishing a career as a drag queen in New York City, returned there to live.

Bermuda has become a more tolerant place, but as a country they still have a long way to go, said Barrington who walked with the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda.