Senate passes bill decriminalising gay sex

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Parliament took another step towards legalising homosexual sex when the controversial bill was passed unopposed by Senate yesterday.

But three senators had strong words to say against the Criminal Code 1907 Amendment Act 1994, introduced by Government MP the Hon.


Parliament took another step towards legalising homosexual sex when the controversial bill was passed unopposed by Senate yesterday.

But three senators had strong words to say against the Criminal Code 1907 Amendment Act 1994, introduced by Government MP the Hon. John Stubbs.

Opposition Senators Terry Lister and Neletha Butterfield and Government Sen.

Yvette Swan decided not to vote against the bill because of the strength of support from seven other senators.

And it now means the bill will be sent to Governor Lord Waddington for Royal assent.

Hundreds of people, involved with the Christian Coalition have demonstrated against Dr. Stubbs' bill, which will scrap laws carrying prison sentences for men involved in gay sex.

But supporters of the bill passed yesterday see the laws as outdated and feel they should be scrapped to bring Bermuda into line with other countries in terms of human rights.

Introducing the bill to Senate, Sen. Norma Astwood said: "These sections of the law are inconsistent, not enforceable in our courts, have not been in force for some years and ought to be removed from the statute books.

"I do not see how homosexuals can be a destructive group in the community.

There is nothing they can do about the fact that they are homosexual and we should not see it as a crime.'' Human rights and biological arguments were made in favour of the passage of the law in the chamber.

Environment Minister the Hon. Sen. Gerald Simons asked: "Do we as a community wish to lock up people because of their sexual activity in the bedroom?'' Making his Senate debut, United Bermuda Party Sen. Gary Pitman was in favour of the bill, he said: "They should not be treated as criminals because of different sexual preferences provided they are consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes.'' Government Sen. Yvette Swan said she was opposeed to the bill over concerns about religious beliefs and the spread of AIDs.

She said: "It's a known fact that in the majority of cases AIDS is spread through homosexual relationships among homosexuals and bisexuals who will go on and spread it to heterosexual partners.'' Adding to the AIDS message was Progressive Labour Party Sen. Terry Lister who said: "It seems to me that we are taking a position that will increase the incidence of AIDS, it will be a foolish course of action.'' Opposition Sen. Neletha Butterfield claimed she had received verbal threats when it became clear she would vote against the bill.

But Government Sen. Lawrence Scott said he had been called a "closet queen'' by a man who knew he would be voting in favour.

Independent Sen. Alf Oughton and Sen. Lister stressed that recent calls to boycott the Allan Vincent Smith Foundation should not be taken as the views of the Christian Coalition.

The foundation was set up after Mr. Smith's death from AIDS, by his father, Mr. Martin Smith to educate the community about the fatal illness.

Sen. Lister said that the Christian Coalition had fought for a long time and had kept a true "line and length'' except for this statement.

He said: "This was something said in the heat of passion, it may not have been the right and proper thing to say.'' Sen. Oughton said: "The call to boycott the Allan Vincent Smith Foundation was said in the heat of discussion.

"I would ask the Christian Coalition to publicly rescind this boycott and support the foundation which has done a lot of good work.'' HOMOSEXUALITY GAYS GAY

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