By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas’ support of a United Nations resolution for the appointment of an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is nothing more than a “back door attempt” by the government to make same sex marriage legal in the country, the United People’s Movement has said.
The newly formed party, led by Marco City MP Greg Moss, said in a statement on Monday that this country’s decision to support the upholding of Thai professor Vitit Muntarbhorn’s appointment is an “affront” to the “Christian values and culture of the Bahamian people” and an attempt to “reject and subvert the will of the Bahamian people” expressed in last year’s gender equality referendum.
The party claimed that Professor Muntarbhorn is a gay rights advocate, and surmised that his appointment as the first UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity is “clearly designed to further the gay rights agenda” worldwide.
The UPM also slammed Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell for his ministry’s “insidious” attempt to “clothe the PLP’s embrace of the gay rights agenda in the language of the preamble to the Bahamian Constitution and in our Christian values.” The UPM said a recent statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration on Professor Muntarbhorn’s appointment “shows how far he and the PLP government are from Biblical principles in responding to the gay agenda.”
Mr Muntarbhorn, an international law professor from Thailand, was appointed in September and given a three-year mandate to investigate incidents of discrimination and abuse around the world.
The African Group, a regional bloc comprised of 54 member countries, had twice tried to block his appointment, underscoring that as there is no international consensus on sexual orientation and gender identity, Professor Muntarbhorn’s mandate had no legal basis.
However, the Bahamas, after previously voting in favour of Professor Muntarbhorn’s appointment in November, again sided with the appointment on December 19, later saying the decision was “consistent” with the Christian values espoused by Bahamians, which include “decrying any action which would support violence, discrimination, bigotry or intolerance against people of every stripe without distinction.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration also said the vote at the UN General Assembly was a “procedural one” on “whether the report of the Human Rights council should be adopted in its entirety or with certain deletions.”
As such, the ministry said any other characterisation of the vote is “misleading.”
In response, the UPM said while the laws and customs of the Bahamas support the protection of persons against unlawful violence, including those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, the result of the vote was “clearly to elevate and equate so-called discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity with violence against persons.”
“The UPM rejects the actions of the PLP government in supporting the appointment of Professor Muntarbhorn as an independent expert as being an affront to the Christian values and culture of the Bahamian people and to their sound rejection of the gay rights agenda in the June 2016 referendum,” the UPM said.
“While the UPM accepts that all consenting adults are free to express their sexuality as they wish in private, we maintain the God-given and constitutional rights of all Bahamians to enjoy their religious freedom, inclusive of the expression of their faith and the rejection of those things which God has ordained as being sins and abominations, without fear of any form of legal or constitutional restriction of consequences whatsoever.”
The statement added: “While the UPM rejects unlawful violence in every form against all people, including people in the LGBT community, it also rejects the attempt to label Christian values and the Christian rejection of the gay agenda as being discriminatory, bigoted or intolerant.”
Last month, Pastors Cedric Moss, Alfred Stewart and Lyall Bethel, in a letter to Mr Mitchell about the vote, expressed disappointment over the country’s decision to side with the “slim majority” of nations to uphold Professor Muntarbhorn’s appointment, further accusing the government of misrepresenting the views and wishes of the “overwhelming” majority of Bahamians.
The pastors also expressed concerns that the words “violence” and “discrimination” were being distorted to mean any view that does not support the LGBT community.
The pastors noted that by his own admission, Professor Muntarbhorn has made it clear that he will use his appointment to advocate for and promote the LGBT ideology, which the pastor’s said is contrary to the surface reasons for his appointment.