The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda [RAoB] is shocked at the contradictory comments made in the House of Assembly yesterday regarding attracting more LGBTQ tourism. If the Government seeks to make Bermuda more hospitable for the LGBTQ community, it should start with its own citizens.
With the recent passage of the Domestic Partnership Act [DPA], the Government of Bermuda has made it patently clear that it has little interest in the well-being of LGBTQ individuals. Shrouding this legislation under the label of a “compromise”, it is evident that the Government of Bermuda caved to pressure by a local charity with political aims. Indeed, a right-wing anti-LGBTQ group based in the US, National Organization for Marriage [NOM], has publicly taken credit for their collusion with Bermudian anti-LGBTQ groups to achieve the DPA. NOM has also in the past sought to, “Drive a wedge between gays and blacks,” as quoted by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and it is evident that this strategy was employed in Bermuda, forgetting that there are many Bermudians that are both Black and gay. RAOB advocates for an intersectional approach to equity and equality in Bermuda, and both the Government and opposition have failed in this regard.
The fact that the Bermuda Government has enshrined discrimination against same-gender loving couples into law cannot be softened or spun by a weak attempt of both the ruling administration and the opposition to discuss attracting “pink dollars” to Bermuda. By removing the primacy of the Human Rights Act in relation to the DPA, the Government of Bermuda has shown its blatant disregard for the legal protections countless individuals and local organizations have spent years advocating for.
This exchange in the House of Assembly was disingenuous at best and hypocritical posturing at worst, as an attempt to undo the damage created by the swift, damning, and harsh criticism of Bermuda from the international community. While the RAoB does not support the “Boycott Bermuda” movement, we understand why LGBTQ people would choose not to spend their money in visiting a place where they are seen as separate but equal in the eyes of the law.
The DPA has created a stigma that Bermuda will likely never be able to completely rid itself of, no matter the amount of marketing dollars put into a spin campaign. In an industry in which word of mouth both makes and breaks success, the Bermuda Government has failed not only Bermuda’s LGTBQ community first and foremost, but the Bermuda hospitality industry as a whole.
Marriage equality has no effect on opposite-gender loving couples. Perhaps the Home Affairs Minister should follow the logic supplied by the Minister for Works with regard to ATVs: If it doesn’t affect you directly, you don’t get a say.