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Petition Calls For End To Discrimination

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Staff Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

SUPPORT is steadily growing for an online petition that seeks to ensure discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal in the Bahamas.

Hosted by change.org, the petition was created by Bahamas user Jamaal Miller earlier this month.

This followed a claim by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson that while the constitution should be amended to end all forms of discrimination, there should be no mention of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the law.

She explained her position by pointing out that there have been no reported cases of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and that the country therefore has “far more pressing matters” to deal with.

But gay rights activists hit back, saying they are discriminated against on a regular basis – but there are no records because officials refuse to document their complaints.

The petition states: “Any amendments to existing law or introduction of new legislation (whether constitutional or statute law) should include provisions for the protection and free expression of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the Bahamas.”

User Juanita I Schmidhammer from St Joseph, Trinidad and Tobago wrote: “No country can claim to be developed while treating some of its citizens as second-class; we are all humans and deserve to be treated the same regardless of which gender we happen to love.

“Sexual orientation does not affect one’s contribution as a citizen; GLBT people work and pay taxes as well, and should be treated equally under the law.”

User Alicia Wallace, Nassau, Bahamas added: “No group of people should be excluded from constitutional amendments to end discrimination. It is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable to make changes and wilfully exclude the LGBT community. We all deserve protection from discrimination.”

Following Mrs Maynard-Gibson’s comments, human rights activist Erin Greene said she has been a victim of both crime and discrimination; however, the Royal Bahamas Police Force does not record information on, or investigate claims involving, sexual orientation.

“In the absence of an official mechanism (ie Human Rights Council) to record crimes and discrimination against the LGBT community, the LGBT community is unable to report acts of violence against them, or instances of discrimination,” she said.

Last night, the petition had 216 signatures.

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