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Human rights – a human obligation

By Jeremy Deacon
It has been a long time coming, but at last sexual orientation has been added to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Now the Island has, in this regard at least, moved into the 21st century. It is a mature decision and the MPs need to be congratulated…

As a country, it is time to follow our elected leaders and preach — and practice — greater tolerance, not just to those of a different sexual orientation, but to everyone.
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New bill is ‘a step in the right direction’

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”.

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Are we ready?

Yesterday this newspaper [The Royal Gazette] published two stories about the British Parliament’s overwhelming vote in support of legalising gay marriage.

Locally the LGBTQ community welcomed the news, saying “legalising marriage validates a person’s existence and relationship more than people can understand”.

But is Bermuda a tolerant enough society? Could it, emotionally, deal with an issue as contentious as legalised same sex marriages?

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The right thing to do

February 6, 2013

Dear Sir,

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.

JPS

Smith’s

Source: The Royal Gazette

Campaigners welcome gay rights vote result

Gay rights campaigners in Bermuda have welcomed the British Parliament’s overwhelming vote in support of legalising gay marriage.

British MPs yesterday backed a draft law on the issue by 400 votes to 175. The legislation, which would come into effect next year, is still several stages away from becoming law.

“[We] are encouraged by the UK Parliament’s support of the legalisation of gay marriage,” The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said last night. “We hasten to add, however, that this is not the end of the struggle for equality.”

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As you think, so you are

In 1902 James Allen wrote a little book that has become a classic. His book was titled As a Man Thinketh, and it is taken from thoughts in the book of Proverbs, namely, Proverbs 23:7. In the context that reads, “Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.” In the Bible the context makes it clear that the question of how one thinks is directed at another person, but Allen’s book applies the proverb to the way one’s own thinking goes. The proverb draws people to consider the thinking of others; Allen draws people to consider their own thinking, but both challenge people to consider thinking.

Continue Reading: Royal Gazette

Pastor says religion should not be used to deny human rights

Pastor Sylvia Hayward-Harris yesterday criticised those who use religious arguments to deny human rights.

Speaking at a public forum on the issue of Human Rights and Sexual Orientation, she said: “There’s something seriously wrong when we discriminate against someone who is another human being.

“I’m here as a believer in Jesus and what he had to say about love and justice. He spoke a lot about what is right for us and he didn’t say anything about homosexuality.

“The people who are the most vocal are people who have been discriminated against, and that really disturbs me.”

Continue Reading: Royal Gazette