EDITOR, The Tribune.
Over the past two years in The Bahamas and specifically within the last six months, the four Constitutional Bills to eliminate discrimination against women has been a very “hot topic”.
Everywhere you go, in the churches, schools, neighbourhoods, radio stations, newspapers and television, there is widespread debate.
The Government has set a date for the Referendum regarding the same: the 7th June, 2016.
To that end, I will give a brief overview of the above mentioned Constitutional Bills.
Bill number one (1) seeks to allow a married Bahamian woman having a child born outside of the Bahamas to pass on her Bahamian citizenship to her child.
Presently, the law allows only a married Bahamian man to do so. While the allowance of a Bahamian woman having the same right of that of the Bahamian man seems rather simple, many arguments have come forth stating that since the Bahamian woman chose to have a child with a foreign man, the child should be foreign; while they forget that the Bahamian woman should have the same right as the Bahamian man to pass on citizenship to her child.
Bill number two seeks to allow a married Bahamian woman to register her foreign husband for citizenship consideration.
Presently, the law allows only a married Bahamian man to do so. Again, while it seems rather simple to balance this right to both the married male and female; many argue, in particular the men, that there will be an influx of foreign men coming into the country taking their jobs. Also some hypocritically stated that there will be marriages of conveniences, forgetting that presently the same
disadvantage the Bahamian women face because the Bahamian men have and continue to marry foreign women.
Bill number three (3) seeks to allow the unmarried Bahamian man with proof of a paternity test to pass on his citizenship to his child. Presently, the law allows only the unmarried Bahamian woman to do so. This too is simple balance between a man and woman, but unnecessary arguments exist here also.
Bill number four (4) seeks to add the word “sex” to the other items of discrimination in the Constitution. While the word “sex” is defined as male or female; of the four Constitutional Bills; Bill number four is the most controversial because some pastors and many ordinary citizens believe that a “Yes” vote will open the door to Same Sex Marriages and the words “at birth” should be added.
On the other hand, some other pastors and some ordinary citizens who support the Government believe
that there should be a “Yes” vote to all four of the Bills.
Sadly, what started out as a simple process to eliminate discrimination against women has again turned into “a political football”.
Some Bahamians find the present Government to be disingenuous in asking the Bahamian to vote “Yes” to the four Bills because in 2002, while they were in opposition, they voted “Yes” in Parliament for the Bills but came out of Parliament and told their supporters to vote “No”. Also fresh in the minds of Bahamians in 2012, there was a majority Referendum Vote to end the practice of Web Shops/ Number Houses and the Government went against the people and still passed the law in support of the same.
This has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Bahamians and many feel the Government cannot be trusted!
In light of that many Bahamians are either voting “No” or some are saying the Government is a waste of time and they are not voting at all!
In conclusion, my dear Bahamians, “let us not throw the baby out with the bath water”; let us intelligently look at each of the four Bills; stop giving into political distractions; pray and seek God’s Wisdom, go out to the Polls on the 7th June, 2016 and vote our conscience. Thank you!