‘Gays need more than a change in the law’
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 7: Government’s plans to rewrite human rights law to protect gay people from discrimination does not go far enough, campaigners said on Tuesday.
And the Rainbow Alliance — a pressure group set up to campaign for gay rights — said that if Government is to rip up the current human rights law and draft a new Equality Act, it should also use the time to work to cut anti-gay sentiment in Bermuda.
Caitlin O’Doherty, of the Rainbow Alliance, said: “We support the government’s extension of basic human rights to more of Bermuda’s people.
“But we insist that if this legislation must be further delayed by the total overhaul of Bermuda’s human rights legislation, that a complete and inclusive assessment is made and includes educational efforts to reduce discrimination and homophobia on the island.”
Ms O’Doherty added: “The Throne Speech states that the government will ‘assess the feasibility of introducing an Equality Act’, which proves to be a vague and non-committal statement of good intention with little substance.
“We remain optimistic about the government’s proposal of protections banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, included in the proposed ‘Equality Bill’.
“However, we also recognize that this legislative change has been promised to us for years and the process of determining the ‘Equality Bill’ provides further delay for a change long overdue.
“We hope that through the longer process of “assessing” a new bill — rather than simply amending the Human Rights Act as it stands — that the government seriously investigates how to make Bermuda’s legislation responsive to the needs of all people of Bermuda.
“This would include the protection of people from discrimination based on not only ‘sexual orientation’, but also include gender identity and gender expression.
“Furthermore, greater government support in addressing the roots of discrimination and homophobia in Bermuda are needed alongside such legislation.”
The news came as Mark Anderson, the man behind Sybil Barrington, the Queen of Bermuda, pulled out all the stops to entertain a 250-strong gay group on a cruise ship diverted from a Caribbean trip to Bermuda due to superstorm Sandy.
Mr Anderson organised trips around the island, including one to struggling St George’s, for the group and organised a party at Cosmopolitan night club in Hamilton on Sunday night.
He added: “I feel that it’s extremely important that we embrace all our visitors to our island home.
“There is no law-abiding citizen of any country who should not be able to benefit from our island hospitality.”
Mr Anderson said he had taken his Sybil Barrington act abroad and found many other countries more welcoming to gay people than Bermuda.
He added: “It’s my desire and should be my right to welcome my family and friends to Bermuda.
“After being promised in three Throne Speeches and by three Premiers, we still don’t have protection under the existing Human Rights Act.
“After all these years, we still have couples on this island who have been together fifty years who still don’t have freedom from discrimination just because of who they love.”
He added that the gay group from the Norwegian Gem had enjoyed their visit – and spent considerable amounts of money on the island, which represented an untapped tourism source for the island.
He said his own act could be better promoted by tourism authorities to attract gay tourists and others who could be put off by Bermuda’s strait-laced image.
Mr Anderson said: “They are leaving with a good feeling — they had a wonderful time and I’m very happy about that.”
Source: Bermuda Sun