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Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to UFC Bermuda’s Ad

The Bermuda Sun posed the following questions to the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, which were reported here.  Below is the entirety of our response to the questions regarding the UFC Ad.

WHAT IS THE RAINBOW ALLIANCE OF BERMUDA’S VIEW OF THE RECENT ADVERT PLACED BY CHURCH GROUP UNITED FOR CHANGE (UFC)?

The “United for Change” advert in the Royal Gazette has made it abundantly clear that these groups do not wish to open their doors to homosexuals. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to inform any members of the LGBTQ community that are looking for a safer religious space that Vision Ministries (Pastor Sylvia Hayward-Harris) has expressed their support for LGBTQ members.

DOES THE RAINBOW ALLIANCE OF BERMUDA THINK THE REQUEST FOR RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION HAS ANY MERIT?

The Human Rights Act amendment to include sexual orientation was not created to impinge upon the freedoms of any already-protected religious majority groups, but to protect every person that has a sexual orientation (i.e. all persons).

Freedom of conscience or religion as a constitutional right includes the right to be a member of any religion or sect you choose, and the right to manifest your beliefs in public. Manifesting these beliefs in public does not mean that you are immune from punishment for any activity which is clearly unlawful or injurious to another’s rights.

Legislating observance to doctrinal views is a violation of the freedom of conscience rights under the constitution. Suggesting further amendments to the Human Rights Act to make some groups “more equal than others” defies the spirit of the Act.

As the Human Rights Act currently stands, Churches already have the ability to discriminate when hiring if it is a bona fide and material requirement for the job, i.e. if they can prove that sexual orientation is a bona fide and material requirement to being a clergymen. Any other exemption is a perversion of the law, and shows favoritism of one group over another.

Constitutional rights are about balance. No right is absolute. Sections 1 and 8(5) make it clear that freedom of conscience is subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest.

IS IT DISAPPOINTING THAT SO MANY FAITH GROUPS HAVE APPARENTLY REJECTED THE AMENDMENT, AT LEAST WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR OWN ORGANIZATIONS? / WHAT DOES THE RAINBOW ALLIANCE OF BERMUDA THINK THE ANGLICAN CHURCH SHOULD DO?

The Human Rights Act has already passed to include sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination. The UFC group may vocally dislike this law, but they are not permitted to reject or break it.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda finds it questionable that the UFC group has decided to highlight homosexuality as a ‘sin’ more deserving of “carve-outs” in the law than any other ‘sin’ that their doctrine opposes, some of which are grounds already protected by the Human Rights Act.

The UFC’s statement opens with a message of love and tolerance, which we return in equal measure. We hope to see them redirect their collective attention and money spent (with full-page ads running from $2000-$3000) on more pressing community issues. We hope that the Anglican Church also continues their positive community work and does not seek to create any more divisions within our already fractured community.

IS IT DISAPPOINTING THAT GOVERNMENT MINISTER WAYNE SCOTT HAS RULED OUT ANY AMENDMENTS TO THE MARRIAGE ACT TO ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?

The official position of the current government was clarified by Premier Craig Cannonier, who has stated that marriage equality will not be pursued while he is in power. Minister Wayne Scott & Premier Cannonier’s leadership positions are not permanent, and Bermuda will continue to take steps towards equity for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is a non-partisan group made up of LGBTQ community members and allies of various ages, backgrounds, and religious beliefs. Bermuda has a long way to go in addressing the heterosexist and sometimes homophobic attitudes displayed in reaction to the recent Human Rights Act amendment, which will remain a cause that the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will campaign for through education and outreach. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will continue its focus to provide safer spaces for the LGBTQ community members and allies.

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