Bermuda looks set to outlaw discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, with both the Government and Opposition supporting reform on the issue. However the Opposition has accused the Government of playing politics.
Youth, Families and Sport Minister Glenn Blakeney moved a motion in favor of reform on Friday, telling the Bermudan House of Assembly, ‘This Government does not condone injustice and discrimination in race, gender, religious beliefs, place of origin, age or because of a person’s sexual orientation.’
‘However, unlike the stated first four grounds of discrimination, there is currently no legislation to protect persons from the latter two.
‘No matter what we look like, where we come from or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity and this Government intends to progress equality for all by preventing discrimination against all classes of people.’
‘Harassment of persons who are homosexual is equally as unacceptable as harassment of based on their gender.’
However Blakeney said his government drew the line at legalising same-sex marriage.
‘This Government is sensitive to the fact that in Bermuda there is a significant faith-based community who on the one hand, because of religious beliefs, is not likely to favor a marriage tradition that includes same-sex marriage, but who, at the same time, understand that discrimination against persons of same sex orientation in employment, accommodation and goods and services is unacceptable,’ Blakeney said.
Blakeney said the new law should protect heterosexuals from discrimination in the same way that it would protect homosexuals.
However Opposition MP Shawn Crockwell criticized the government, pointing out that it had been promising legislation on the issue since 2004, and that Blakeney himself had voted against a private members bill that would have fixed the problem in 2006.
‘The position on this side of the House is that we support this legislation but the views have been gauged for years and the question is when will the Government bring forth the appropriate legislation to ensure that we do the right thing,’ Crockwell said.
‘We are not interested in debating a take note motion — promises made and promises broken for years.’
The Bermudan Government intends to hold a series of public consultations before moving forward with a bill. However opposition MPs said Bermuda had moved past debating the issue and called on the Government to present a bill and ‘get on with it.’