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View From Afar: Why Equality Should Be Above Politics

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John Issa

By JOHN ISSA

THERE are many fundamental issues that arise in a nation’s journey to a more enlightened future for its citizens, socially and economically.

These should be debated on their merits as they relate to the good of the people as well as what is right and wrong. These are also the type of subjects on which this column wishes to comment rather than politically partisan matters.

Herein lies the problem. Every discussion on national issues seems to morph into a politically partisan battle. Are there not some matters that transcend partisan politics? Most reasonable persons would say yes. However, if you pay attention to the media you would think not.

One case that shines the spotlight on this national affliction is the matter of equality under our laws. Does anyone really disagree that we are all equal under the law? I don’t think so. Then why in God’s name do we need a referendum to give all our citizens the same rights?

To guarantee this, why can’t our Parliament just pass the necessary laws by unanimous vote. Gender inequality under some of our laws is untenable in the 21st century. Why should our Governor General not have the same rights as the policeman who stands guard at Government House?

This column would appreciate any reader letting me know if they can find any reason why this should be so.

• John Issa is executive chairman of SuperClubs. He is writing regularly in The Tribune.

Comments

Zakary 5 years ago

  • Are there not some matters that transcend partisan politics?

Even if there are matters that transcend partisan politics, out of stubbornness and a reluctance for compromise, we ultimately devolve into partisan politics. This makes a lot of sense when you consider Bahamian history. We as Bahamians are conditioned to view issues through an “us vs them” mentality. This forms a larger part of the Bahamian identity and we identify our position and ideology through political party rather than through nationalistic issues. Every election proves this over and over again. The media also reflects this truth.

Politicians know that one of the simplest ways to unify a group is to utilize the psychological effect of “us vs them”. If there is a common enemy, then all differences within their unified group cease and everyone works toward a common goal. This does not bode well for the long term development of a country, and it takes a different type of politician who possesses nuance and skill to unite a country through nationalistic issues. This distinction is also the reason why countries such as Singapore are so successful.

  • Does anyone really disagree that we are all equal under the law?

If you were to go through town and ask everyone you meet this exact question you would soon realize that the perceived sense of equality varies from person to person, but this is not the biggest problem. The real crux of the matter is how a person perceives the law. For example, when some hear “equal under the law” what they really see is “some people are more equal than others”.

Laws are passed but not all laws are truly capable of full enforcement. Democracy looks nice on paper but ultimately depends on the responsibility of leaders and the society. Equality looks nice on paper but again depends on societal responsibilities and mutual respect.

In the end, and as bizarre as this sounds, you’ll find that a significant amount of people do not want equal rights because they know how the government and/or society functions. They are free to exploit the current system the way they want to, it's as simple as that.

  • Then why in God’s name do we need a referendum to give all our citizens the same rights?

Because constitution.

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UserOne 5 years ago

I couldn't agree more with the article. I have also been puzzled as to why we need to have a referendum on equal rights.

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