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Today’s Throne Speech; Sexual Orientation: Our Statement to the Press

As a collective of people supportive of the inclusion and recognition of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community in Bermuda, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda are encouraged by the OBA’s pledge to amend the Human Rights Act (HRA) to include sexual orientation and age as grounds for protection from discrimination. The expansion of the HRA to acknowledge and prevent discrimination faced by people based on their sexual orientation is a crucial step towards making Bermuda a more inclusive and accepting community and it has our full support.

The amendment of the HRA has been consistently promised since 2004 and has yet to come to fruition. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda urges the government to follow-through with this legislative change as quickly as possible. Combating discrimination requires more than just a change in the law, it requires an adjustment of attitudes which we hope to see modeled by the leaders of our country and community. The time has come where homophobia should not and will not be tolerated from anyone, particularly from our role models.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will continue to campaign for further policies to combat homophobia and transphobia. The Bermudian LGBTQ community experience discrimination based not only on their sexuality, but also their gender identity and The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will continue to advocate for increased legislative inclusiveness. We hope that Bermuda’s law-makers will eventually join other nations in extending further equal rights to the LGBTQ community.

This legislation would not be possible without years of campaigning by countless activists and groups, especially Dr. John Stubbs, Two Words and a Comma, the Allan Vincent Smith Foundation, the Human Rights Commission, and Amnesty International Bermuda. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is proud to be counted among these groups, and would like to also thank Centre for Justice and The Chewstick Foundation for their unwavering support.

Are we ready?

Yesterday this newspaper [The Royal Gazette] published two stories about the British Parliament’s overwhelming vote in support of legalising gay marriage.

Locally the LGBTQ community welcomed the news, saying “legalising marriage validates a person’s existence and relationship more than people can understand”.

But is Bermuda a tolerant enough society? Could it, emotionally, deal with an issue as contentious as legalised same sex marriages?

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The right thing to do

February 6, 2013

Dear Sir,

Let’s talk about gay marriage. US President Barack Obama used his inaugural address to show his support on the issue. The UK Parliament, led by Conservative leader David Cameron, has just voted to allow it. Where does Bermuda stand on this? If Bermuda were to allow gay marriage, it would be uniquely placed to benefit from the pending changes to the law in the UK and USA. Bermuda’s tourism industry is suffering, but it is well set up to cater for wedding parties. With our pink beaches, pink cottages and pink shorts, we are already perfectly colour-coordinated to market to the pink pound or the pink dollar. Weddings, whether gay or straight, are generally fairly formal celebrations, in keeping with Bermuda’s reputation as a conservative destination. There are hundreds of thousands of gay couples in the US and UK, many of whom have been together for decades and who are waiting for the law to change. If Bermuda is too slow, we will miss the opportunity to cater to them, as they will get married at home instead. Is this going to be another case where Bermuda is too slow to take the initiative, or are we going to seize the opportunity, do the right thing, and give our economy a much-needed boost at the same time?

Allowing gay marriage is also the right thing to do for gay Bermudians. Straight spouses of Bermudians are entitled to Bermudian status after ten years. Gay life partners have no protected right to even live and work in Bermuda, never mind other rights such as owning property. It’s no wonder that many gay Bermudians live in self-imposed exile overseas rather than have to subject their loved ones to life as a second-class citizen in Bermuda. Marriage is a conservative institution that promotes commitment and social stability. As a straight married man, I feel that my marriage will be unaffected by allowing gay couples to enjoy the benefits that marriage provides. Allowing gay couples to take part in it will make Bermuda a better place to live.

JPS

Smith’s

Source: The Royal Gazette

Second party to promote equal rights for gays

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6: A second event to promote equal rights for gay people is to be held in a city nightspot tomorrow (Thursday).

The Big Gay Thursday event — with a dress code of business attire — is aimed at fostering links between Bermuda businesses and the gay community.

But organiser Valentino Tear, a Bermudian based in England, where he is a successful DJ, said: “I want to encourage everyone to come to these parties.

“They are not exclusively gay — but they are gay-friendly. A lot of people say they don’t want to go because people will think they’re gay. But this is not a gay or a straight thing — it’s a Bermuda thing.

“It’s an opportunity to show we can all party together as one, supporting and respecting each other as Bermuda residents and human beings. It’s an open event and everyone is welcome.”

The event will be held at Taste One Four One in the new Sir John W Swan Building on Front Street.

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Campaigners welcome gay rights vote result

Gay rights campaigners in Bermuda have welcomed the British Parliament’s overwhelming vote in support of legalising gay marriage.

British MPs yesterday backed a draft law on the issue by 400 votes to 175. The legislation, which would come into effect next year, is still several stages away from becoming law.

“[We] are encouraged by the UK Parliament’s support of the legalisation of gay marriage,” The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said last night. “We hasten to add, however, that this is not the end of the struggle for equality.”

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