Finally! The Human Rights Act Amendment is Passed!
The past month has surely been exciting for Bermuda’s LGBTQ community! Bermuda’s Government finally made the decision to amend the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as protected grounds from discrimination in terms of employment, goods and services and housing.
Here’s a timeline of some of the events that have led up to this point:
- The Stubbs Bill, legalizing consensual sex between men, was passed.
- It is announced through the Throne Speech that the Government will amend the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation.
May 26, 2006:
- Renee Webb JP MP brought before the House of Assembly a Private Members Bill to add sexual orientation as a protected grounds of discrimination under the Human Rights Act. Politicians met the controversial Bill with silence.
June 2, 2006:
- The decision to reject – and barely debate – Renee Webb’s bid to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation led to more than 300 pro-democracy campaigners turning out in force on the lawns of Parliament.
- A group of concerned citizens took human rights education into their own hands and launched Two Words and a Comma, a campaign to include sexual orientation as a protected grounds under the Human Rights Act.
- Government states that the inclusion of sexual orientation into the Human Rights Act is still being “actively investigated”.
- The Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International Bermuda and the Bermuda Bar Council join forces in calling for MPs to consider amending the Human Rights Act.
May 25, 2011:
- After she was asked to leave her housing based on her sexual orientation, Krys Assan launches an event called “Home is Where the Hatred Is” at City Hall to raise awareness about discrimination against gay people on the island, and with an aim at encouraging officials to include sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act.
July 13, 2012:
- Politicians debated a ‘take note’ motion in Parliament, on adding an amendment to the Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on age and sexual discrimination, with the majority of MPs speaking in favour of extending the Human Rights Act.
July 30, 2012:
- Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, a collective of people supportive of the rights and struggles of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] and queer community of Bermuda, is founded, with the common goal of providing safe spaces for positive, grassroots dialogue among the LGBTQ community and its allies and supporters.
August 17, 2012:
- Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda hosts an open forum at Par-La-Ville Park, for discussion and support of the LGBTQ community, with a goal of moving towards creating safer physical spaces for such discussions. The open forum gave people an opportunity to express themselves and their stories through whichever form they choose, including spoken word and music.
August 20, 2012:
November 2, 2012:
- The PLP Government’s 2012 Throne Speech includes sexual orientation, stating, “Bermuda’s Human Rights Act 1981 no longer meets the standard for human rights in a 21st Century democracy. Government proposes therefore to replace the outdated Act in this Parliamentary Session with a new broadly based Bill that will address protection against discrimination for a range of characteristics including age and sexual orientation.”
December 11, 2012:
- The One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) release their full election platform, stating, “To promote inclusiveness, an OBA Government will: Strengthen Bermuda’s commitment to human rights for all, prohibiting discrimination in employment, goods and services and housing.”
December 17, 2012:
- The OBA claims victory of the 2012 General Election and becomes the new Government of Bermuda.
February 8, 2013:
- The new OBA Government pledges to amend the Human Rights Act (HRA) to include sexual orientation and age as grounds for protection from discrimination during the 2013 Throne Speech, which outlines the Government’s legislative agenda for the upcoming year.
May 17, 2013:
- The Amendment was tabled (initially read) in the House of Assembly.
- The Sexual Orientation Working Group (Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, Two Words and a Comma, Centre for Justice, Amnesty International Bermuda, the Human Rights Commission, and Vision Ministries) held a lunchtime gathering on the lawn of the House of Assembly to show our support for the Amendment and to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia.
June 14, 2013:
- The Amendment to include sexual orientation was passed by Parliament after a nearly 9 hour-long debate in the House of Assembly.
June 19, 2013:
- The Amendment to include sexual orientation was passed by the Senate.
- The next steps will be:
- The bill must go back to the House of Assembly for clarification of clause 6C, on Harrassment.
- Once passed, the revised bill will be discussed in the Senate.
- The Governor will sign the bill, and will ascend a date to the bill being law, at which time it will officially be made illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation (in employment, goods and services and housing). Finally!
Check out our photo galleries of the International Day Against Homophobia and our celebration of the Amendment finally being tabled!
If you think we’ve missed anything or anyone, please leave a comment!