Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine.
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No, I do not agree.
113 total votes.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PINERIDGE MP Frederick McAlpine says The Bahamas needs a national conversation about letting gay couples enter civil unions and legalising abortion, both of which he believes eligible people should be entitled to.
He spoke to The Tribune yesterday as news of a planned gay pride parade next year sparked intense discussion across social media in recent days.
Elected officials have historically shied away from discussing hot button issues like gay rights and abortion in any detail, but the outspoken Free National Movement MP, who is also a pastor, confronted the issues head-on when contacted yesterday.
“People do not see homosexuality and lesbianism in the same light as they did 20 years ago,” he said. “I don’t think the country is accepting but the country has matured in that area mainly because everyone can look in their family and find one of them, two of them, three of them.”
Civil unions are legally recognised arrangements that provide most or all the rights of marriage but not the title.
Mr McAlpine said: “I’m a pastor, I’m liberal in my thinking yet I’m very spiritual. I personally don’t support gay marriage but I think the time is coming when you’re going to have to look at something called civil unions. Let me give an example why. A mother has been fighting her gay son for years but when he dies she wants the Mercedes and the land he had. But he got those things through his homosexual lifestyle so why should you want it when you don’t know how he got it, when it might be a partner or friend he got these things with? You disowned him, you disregarded him, but when he died you want everything he has? That’s not right. I don’t endorse man marrying man but there might come at time when people want to hold on to what they have or the things they have had together through joint custody with another person. There has to be a law to protect those people.”
He added: “That conversation needs to start more because somethings are taboo. For instance, we say in this country it’s illegal to get abortion but everybody know people do get abortions. So when are we going to stop playing this game? I don’t endorse abortion but I think a woman has a right to do what she chooses to do. The church and government got to stay out of people’s bedroom. I don’t want the government in my house, telling me how to have sex, when to have sex and who to have sex with as long as it is consensual and not involving minors.”
Many believe fears about gay marriage led to the failure of the 2016 constitutional referendum on citizenship changes.
A committee formed by the Bahamas Organisation of LGBTI affairs and community allies plans to stage pride events in October 2020, embracing the theme “The Rebirth of Pride Bahamas Centering LGBTIQA People in the Bahamas’ Future.” Caribbean countries including Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica have hosted pride parades before, but not the Bahamas.
Alexis DeMarco, a transgender activist and one of the organisers of the planned parade, said pride celebrations “are critical for promoting the rights of Bahamian LGBT people.” She said the intention is to normalise the idea that LGBT people exist in the country and are “productive and well contributing members of society who are entitled to the right to love without discrimination.”
Yesterday, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar declined to respond to reporters before Cabinet concerning the planned parade.
Describing it as a contentious matter for Bahamians, Mr D’Aguilar said: “You’ve thrown the question out at me, something worth considering but I hadn’t considered it so give me some time to think about.”
Mr McAlpine, however, said if asked, the administration should make it clear that the rights of people will be respected even if they don’t endorse the lifestyle.
“To me this is simple,” he said. “If you ain’ gay, what you worrying about them who marching for? Your job as a pastor is in the pulpit, go preach, what you going out in the street for? I had a problem years ago when you stop the boat from coming to the Bahamas because it had gays and lesbians. Okay, I could understand where you feel it’s a sin, but I’m not going to demonstrate against a boat that has gays on it and refuse to go on the other boat that has fornicators and liars and backbiters on it. If they have the permit, the law entitles them to their right and if you’re not gay you shouldn’t be getting up in these people business or condemning them or judging them. The government has a responsibility to make sure that whatever they do, people’s rights are not alienated.”
In 1998 and 2004, some Bahamians led by the Bahamas Christian Council took to the streets to protest the arrival of lesbian and gay people on cruise ships. In response to both incidents, government administrations of the day emphasised their opposition to discrimination.