[Opinion column written by U.S. Consul General to Bermuda Robert Settje] The Government of the United States supports and promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] rights.
Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, in collaboration with the Centre for Justice, the Human Rights Commission, Kinsfolk Bermuda, and Two Words and a Comma, are excited to announce Bermuda’s participation in WorldPride 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, from June 20-29, culminating in the Annual Pride Parade on Sunday, June 29th, 2014.
The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to acknowledge the respectful manner in which Dr Gibbons and the Seventh Day Adventist Church spoke on the topic of homosexuality during the ISSUES program. They offered open arms to all individuals, which is in-line with the Rainbow Alliance’s focus on providing safe spaces for the LGBTQ community.
We agree with Marc Bean’s assessment that same sex marriage is inevitable in Bermuda, but reject all heterosexist assertions that such an event will cause moral disruption. The PLP has not yet arrived at a party position. The official position of the current government was clarified a few weeks ago by Premier Craig Cannonier, who has stated that marriage equality will not be pursued while he is in power. Premier Cannonier’s leadership is not permanent, and Bermuda will continue to take steps towards equity for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.
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 safe spaces for the LGBTQ community members and allies.
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:
Bermuda, 18 June 2013 - The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, would like to applaud the government’s decision on Friday, June 14th, to pass the amendment to the Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We are proud of all the brave voices who spoke in favour of the amendment and of protecting the fundamental human rights of the LGB community.
This legislation would not be possible without years of campaigning by countless activists and groups, particularly Dr. John Stubbs, Two Words and a Comma, Centre for Justice, the Allen Vincent Smith Foundation, the Human Rights Commission, and Amnesty International Bermuda. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda sincerely thanks all of these allies.
Based on the emotional, confused, and sometimes offensive tenor of the debates that took place surrounding the amendment, it is evident that there is still work for us to do in the Bermudian community to combat homophobia, improve understanding, and address misconceptions. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will continue this important work, while continuing to provide safe spaces for the LGBTQ community members and allies. The LGBTQ community will not be shamed, silenced, or condemned and we hope to work together to create equity for all of Bermuda’s citizens.
By Ayo Johnson
Parliament has passed landmark legislation prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, following after a nine-hour debate yesterday.
While there were some dissenting voices, the majority of MPs spoke in favour of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2013 which added sexual orientation discrimination to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
By Owain Johnston-Barnes
Government has formally tabled legislation to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The Human Rights Act currently prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion and criminal record, but the Human Rights Amendment Bill 2013 adds sexual orientation to that list.
…Outside the House of Assembly, dozens of supporters gathered yesterday for a “picnic lunch” organised by the Sexual Orientation Working Group.
The event was held to not only celebrate the tabling of the bill, but to mark the UN International Day Against Homophobia, which was yesterday.
Several members of the crowd wore purple, the colour adopted for the Day Against Homophobia, while others wore purple ribbons and held purple balloons.
A number of attendees also brought placards adorned with phrases including “Feel the Love Bermuda”, “Welcome to the 21st Century Bermuda” and “All Humans have Rights”.
To me, NOH8 is about more than equality, it’s about humanity.
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.
February 6, 2013
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.
Source: The Royal Gazette