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Amnesty Hits Out At Lgbti Discrimination In The Bahamas

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

IN its 2016-2017 report on human rights in The Bahamas, Amnesty International has criticised The Bahamas for its “discriminatory” posture towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and for the country’s rejection of last year’s constitutional referendum on gender equality.

“Stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people continued,” the organisation said. “In April, activists founded the group Bahamas Transgender Intersex United. After its first press conference, members of the group reported receiving threats from members of the public.

In May, an MP suggested that transgender people be exiled to another island.”

Amnesty International was referring to Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller who, last May, denounced the transgender community, urging people to provide financing that would allow the community to be exiled to their own private island to ensure “they stay out of the way” of Bahamians.

“If you want to like man, that’s your damn business but don’t try to impose your will on other people,” Mr Miller said in an interview with The Tribune at the time.

“God should hurry up and come and get this over and done so we don’t have to worry about them,” he added.

With respect to last year’s constitutional referendum in which Bahamians rejected changes that would have allowed for greater equality between the sexes, Amnesty International said: “The proposed amendments – backed by the government – would have strengthened anti-discrimination protections based on sex. The result maintained inequality in Bahamian laws so that women and men pass on citizenship to their children and spouses in different ways. The result put at risk the citizenship rights of families, in particular the risk of separation of families with diverse nationalities or children born outside of the Bahamas to Bahamian parents.”

Amnesty International also highlighted concerns raised by organisations like Save the Bays (STB) with respect to privacy rights.

“Local human rights groups expressed fear regarding government surveillance online,” Amnesty said. “In August, the Supreme Court ruled that the Minister of Education (Jerome Fitzgerald) had breached the constitutional rights to privacy and to freedom of expression of members of an environmental group when he obtained and read their private email correspondence in Parliament. Ministers had alleged that the group was seeking to destabilise the government, and argued that parliamentary privilege allowed them to read out the confidential emails. The court held that parliamentary privilege was subject to the supremacy of the Constitution, and ordered the destruction of the correspondence. At the end of the year, it remained unclear how the government had obtained the emails.”

However, in an affidavit filed on January 24, Mr Fitzgerald claimed that the Save the Bays emails he read and tabled in Parliament were printed out and delivered to him in a “sealed envelope,” adding that he did not know how the documents were accessed. Mr Fitzgerald is appealing the ruling.

“In November, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures to members of the environmental group who allegedly received threats against their lives and personal integrity because of their work as human rights defenders. The government, in response, said the allegations were misrepresented,” Amnesty International added.

Government officials have traditionally been dismissive of Amnesty’s annual report.

Last year, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell criticised the organisation for “uncritically” accepting allegations made by local organisations.

Comments

alfalfa 1 year, 6 months ago

Amnesty tries to put pressure on the Government to effect more liberal treatment of the LBGTI community. The fact of the matter is that the government campaigned long and hard to have the constitutional referendum passed, but the citizens of the country voted it down. This means, in regards to Amnesty's assertions, that the people of the Bahamas, not the Government, are opposed to liberalization of these rights.

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banker 1 year, 6 months ago

Ask the government to enshrine gay rights including gay marriage. Then you will see their true colours.

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CommonSense 1 year, 6 months ago

For the last time...the constitutional referendum had NOTHING to do with same sex marriage.

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licks2 1 year, 6 months ago

How so? If you are a student of history, your statement is very disingenuous. . . the change of words in the constitution would have made it a logical outcome against the same sexed marriages prohibition. . .which is not denied in constitution. . .but in the Marriage Act. The current legal framework only makes it harder to access the constitutional right for same sexed marriages. . .but is obviously changeable in our current legal state. . .otherwise is child's play legally if the attempted referendum was passed to sue for the right to same sexed marriage!

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jackbnimble 1 year, 6 months ago

They can put all the pressure they want. Majority rules baby. We voted "no" so sit small!

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CommonSense 1 year, 6 months ago

For the last time...the constitutional referendum had NOTHING to do with same sex marriage.

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licks2 1 year, 6 months ago

Must I reply again. . .explain yaself!

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Voltaire 1 year, 6 months ago

Commonsense - you name is not so common around here..

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licks2 1 year, 6 months ago

Like ma mar used to say:" common sense" dem een common! Lol! Bouy if you live up to the the name of Francois-Marie Arouet (voltaire) this site will rock like dat doc fella! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

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