Bermuda is to revise its Human Rights Act, which will finally provide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The tiny Caribbean island state’s governor George Fergusson, made an announcement yesterday morning stating: ‘The Bermuda Human Rights Act does not meet the standard for the 21st century. A new act will be introduced that addresses both sexual orientation and age.’
In 2011 Bermuda’s governor said the government would look at ‘the feasibility of introducing an Equality Act to address the outstanding areas of discrimination, in particular, discrimination related to sexual orientation.’
The governor added: ‘Justice is about fairness and equality of access for all. Bermuda does not have that standard and it is to our collective discredit as a democratic country in the 21st century.
‘Bermuda Human Rights Act 1981 no longer meets the standard for human rights in a 21st century democracy.
‘Government proposes therefore to replace the outdated act in this parliamentary session with a new broadly based Bill that will address protection for a range of characteristics including age and sexual orientation’.
Legislators have unsuccessfully attempted twice before (2006, 2009) to introduce an amendment to the Human Rights Act for anti-discrimination measures against LGBT people.
Bermuda is a British overseas territory, with its own parliament while the island’s governor is appointed by the British Queen on the advice of the UK government.
Homosexuality was only legalized in 1994 and the island still has an unequal age of consent (18 gay male sex and 16 for heterosexual and lesbian sex).
The tiny island state has long held a reputation for being anti-gay, and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity is also legal.
Anti-gay social attitudes force many LGBT residents to immigrate elsewhere, principally to the United Kingdom.
On the 30 July 2012 the island inaugurated an LGBT rights movement called Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, which held a public forum on 17 August.
The forum – ‘Speak Out!’ was attended by over 100 people, and many, including politicians, spoke about the need for tolerance and legislative change.
Rainbow Alliance also started an online petition demanding the government of Bermuda to amend the Human Rights Act 1981 to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
It also launched a website and a Facebook page to support the local LGBT community.