By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
SIX major international agencies yesterday threw their support behind a “yes” vote in the upcoming gender equality referendum, projecting that its success will impact reform efforts worldwide.
In a joint statement, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNICEF, UN Women, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) commended the Bahamas for holding the June 7 vote.
“If passed,” the statement read, “these amendments will ensure that Bahamian mothers and fathers have equal rights to transmit nationality to their children, and that Bahamian women are able to confer their nationality to their non-Bahamian spouses on the same basis as Bahamian men.”
It continued: “The changes would also enshrine the principle of equal rights among women and men in the Constitution.”
Bill one seeks to give Bahamian women who are married to foreign men the right to pass their Bahamian citizenship to any child of that union no matter where that child is born. The Constitution currently says that only Bahamian male citizens by birth have that right.
Bill two seeks to give a Bahamian woman married to a foreign man the right to secure for her husband the same access to Bahamian citizenship as a Bahamian male has in relation to his foreign wife.
Bill three would grant any unmarried Bahamian man the right to pass on his Bahamian citizenship to any child he fathers with a foreign woman with proof of paternity.
The fourth bill seeks to end discrimination based on sex.
The agencies outlined several international conventions on human rights standards that address the proposed amendments: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man.
“Furthermore,” the statement said, “the amendments would enable the Bahamas to meet its commitments in relation to citizenship matters under the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean, adopted in 2014.”
It added: “By voting for the four bills, the Bahamas will serve as a positive example to the international community, and its actions will help to encourage reform in countries worldwide which have yet to afford their citizens equal nationality rights.”