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Taking Pride in our flag

By Leanne McGrath, for The Royal Gazette

A group of islanders will fly the flag for Bermuda at the WorldPride festival in Toronto this month.

Organisers estimate that 1.5 million visitors from across the globe will attend the ten-day event, which culminates in a giant parade on June 29.

At least half a dozen residents will visit from Bermuda, with about the same number of Canada-based Bermudians joining them, according to the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, which is encouraging those keen to attend the Pride march to get in touch.

“Bermuda’s participants have registered under the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda banner to officially march in the parade on June 29,” a spokesperson said.

“The Bermuda contingent will have a banner and Bermuda flags. The Rainbow Alliance participants will be joined by members of Two Words and a Comma and have been supported by the other members of the Sexual Orientation Working Group of Bermuda, including the Centre for Justice, the Human Rights Commission, Kinsfolk Bermuda, and Two Words and a Comma.”

The Rainbow Alliance would “love” to host a similar Pride march in Bermuda to highlight their calls for equality for the island’s gay and lesbian communities.

“We have been approached by several interested parties to host an equality day or freedom of expression day and it is an event we are actively discussing with the other Bermuda-based advocacy groups,” the spokesperson said.

“While we haven’t organised anything definitive at this time, any interested members of the community can contact us at info@rainbowbermuda.org with ideas or suggestions.”

This is the second time Bermudians will take part in a WorldPride festival, having attended the celebrations in London in 2012.

R & B singers Deborah Cox and Martha Wash, one of the original Weather Girls, will be among the stars performing at this month’s event, which will incorporate activism, education and the history and culture of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

Those attending from Bermuda hope their calls for equality will soon be heeded.

The Rainbow Alliance said that while the island’s gay and lesbian communities were celebrating the long-awaited passing of the Human Rights Act amendment in June last year, it falls short regarding protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression.

The group — which is enjoying a growing support among the community with more than 700 likes on its Facebook page, on top of a working group of 40 members — also said the Act needed legislation to protect against hate crimes.

More information about the proposed National Gender Policy was needed, they added.

The Alliance said: “While this could be a fantastic idea, it is essential that it looks at gender beyond the traditional understanding — as synonymous with sex.

“While this view is helpful, it is incomplete. Bermuda certainly needs to address women’s issues in our laws and policies since there are lots of arcane distinctions that continue to exist from the Victorian era, especially in the criminal arena. We hope that the policy will also include a move towards gender-neutral laws and regulations.”

Rights group Two Words and a Comma will be joining the Rainbow Alliance in Toronto.

A spokesperson said: “Many Bermudians now call Canada their home, where same-gender marriage is recognised.

“We’d love for them to come home one day to a Bermuda that recognises their love and commitment currently reserved only for heterosexual couples. In the interim, we are excited that we’ll be joined in Toronto by other Bermudians.”

Anyone keen to attend WorldPride in Toronto or those who want more information about the Rainbow Alliance should contact info@rainbowbermuda.org.

 

Source: The Royal Gazette

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