By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Minnis administration should be ashamed for being “dressed down” by the United Nations Human Rights Council over its policy on migrants affected by Hurricane Dorian, Rights Bahamas said yesterday.
The group also praised Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine for his liberal views on same sex unions and abortion, calling him courageous and sensible.
The Human Rights Council has urged the Bahamas to end deportations to Haiti for now, emphasising the vulnerable status migrants affected by Dorian currently occupy. The group called on the government not to deport people who lack documentation without assessing each person’s case and to implement due process guarantees as the people are “entitled to under international law.”
This came after the government reported that more than 100 Haitians were recently deported to Haiti.
Rights Bahamas said: “It is the height of irony that a country newly elected to the UN’s Human Rights Council should have to be dressed down in this embarrassing fashion for its aggressive, inhumane and intolerant behaviour in the face of a humanitarian crisis. We should be working to help all victims of the storm, not heaping further misery on those who are most vulnerable. This FNM government should be ashamed of itself. So too should members of the opposition who have been fanning the flames of hysteria.
“Let us not forget that it was the PLP that recently launched the most frightening and discriminatory attack on people of Haitian ethnicity in Bahamian history. The government has been continually warned that local human rights activists are working with our international contacts, including the United Nations, the OAS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International to bring awareness to the enormous excesses of the Immigration Department and the increasingly draconian pronouncements from the executive. Perhaps now they will start to listen.”
As for Mr McAlpine, the MP expressed support for civil unions for same-sex couples in an interview with The Tribune on Tuesday. Rights Bahamas went further than him yesterday, saying it encourages the removal of all barriers to same sex marriage in the country.
Mr McAlpine had told The Tribune on Tuesday that he believes eligible people should be entitled to same-sex civil unions and abortion, adding that the country deserves a national conversation about expanding rights in these areas.
Rights Bahamas said Mr McAlpine’s comments “represent what is probably the most mature, rational and sensible perspective offered by any Bahamian politician, on any issue, in many years.”
“Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine is commended for his enlightened, fair and compassionate remarks regarding same sex unions and abortion laws in the Bahamas,” the group said. “The current situation, in which neither option is legally available, should be denounced by all who truly believe in the concept of individual human rights and freedoms.”
“McAlpine’s comments are a breath of fresh air in a society that has stagnated in the grip of antiquated ideas and harmful superstitions for far too long. We hope this is the beginning of a wider national conversation on abortion and same-sex rights in the Bahamas.”
The group said it supports a planned LGBT pride parade for next year and called on authorities to give organisers all the “support and protection they need to make this historic event a reality.”
Regarding abortion, the group said every woman should have the unfettered right to choose what happens to their body.
“Abortions - as McAlpine notes - happen regardless, however these are often extremely dangerous undertakings which pose the risk of serious physical and psychological consequences for women,” Rights Bahamas said. “No one should have to risk so much over any personal decision. Meanwhile, the consequences of forcing unwanted children upon unwilling parents can be seen all around us in the anger, disillusionment and social alienation displayed by many young people in the country. As McAlpine says, the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms; so too should the Christian Council. If only more of our political leaders had the vision and bravery of the MP for Pineridge.”