Student plans protest against homophobia, father says it’s cancelled
A City Hall demonstration against homophobia was said to be cancelled last night by the organiser’s father.
Krys Assan’s “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” campaign, calling for homophobic discrimination to be outlawed, was gathering support after she posted on Facebook that she was mistreated in a Bermuda hotel.
Yesterday the hotel owner denied her claim, while Ms Assan’s father Mickey Robinson said: “That situation has vanished.”
However, Ms Assan’s plan for a protest next Wednesday didn’t appear completely dead, with Ms Assan’s Facebook message stating: “Let Bermuda’s decision makers [see] that we won’t be bullied out of our beautiful home by hateful, hurtful people. See you at City Hall.”
Ms Assan did not respond to requests for a comment yesterday.
She posted on Facebook: “On Tuesday May 1, within two days of returning home from school, I was given 15 minutes to leave Windsong Guest Apartments after its owner cancelled my reservation, refused to accept my money, and attempted to slam the door in my face.
“She told me I could go ‘stay with my girlfriend’. I ended up outside of the apartments with my two suitcases, angry and in tears.
“Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality, respect is respect and fair is fair.
“I am organizing Home is Where the Hatred Is in order to raise awareness about discrimination against gay people on the island.
“From 1:00-2:00pm, we will stand in front of City Hall asking for our lawmakers to take complaints of discrimination seriously and to move towards an amendment of the Human Rights Act quickly.”
Windsong owner Roslyn Anderson told The Royal Gazette yesterday she’d only told Ms Assan to leave because she refused to pay extra for her friend to stay in her room.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know anything about the lesbian movement in Bermuda and I’m not prejudiced about anything that’s going on,” said Mrs Anderson.
“I have nothing against gay people as long as they don’t throw it in my face.”
Campaigners have long complained sexual orientation is missing from the list of grounds people cannot be discriminated against under the Human Rights Act.
Ms Assan wrote that she had contacted the Human Rights Commission to make a complaint, but discovered nothing could be done.
“Because sexual orientation is NOT a protected ground under the Human Rights Act, the Human Rights Commission can’t do anything about it,” she wrote.
“With sexual orientation in the HRA, people who have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual preference gay or straight would be able to file a complaint against offenders and have justice done.
“Thanks for your commitment to equality and non-discrimination.”
Ms Assan said the demonstration would take place from 1pm to 2pm outside City Hall, next Wednesday. Sixteen people posted messages of support.
Ms Assan could not be reached, with her father Mr Robinson saying he would not pass on any message.
Mr Robinson said: “There’s new circumstances that came to light and it’s no longer an issue. When she’s ready to say that on Facebook, she will. When we figure out how to remove it, we will. If you look at it tomorrow, there might be something new.”
HRC chairman Shade Subair last night said she was hopeful the Human Rights Act would be amended before the end of the year, meaning sexual orientation discrimination would be outlawed.
Ms Subair declined to comment on the alleged Windsong incident, but said in a statement: “The HRC is wholly in support of much needed legislative amendments which will finally include sexual orientation as a ground upon which discrimination is expressly prohibited in Bermuda.
“There is no moral or even religious justification for harassing or otherwise mistreating another human being on account of that person’s private sexual conduct, especially when such conduct is permitted by law.
“It is an embarrassing indictment on this country that our Human Rights Act has not yet properly endorsed a disapproval of such cruel and unwarranted behaviour.
“Homophobia to this degree has no place in any decent civilised society. We are free to openly disagree with other forms of sexual expression, but that does not equate to any kind of right to abuse a person on this basis.
“As chair of the HRC, I have regularly met with the most senior officers of the Ministry of Human Affairs, including the Executive Officer, the Department Director, the Permanent Secretary, and the Honourable Minister Glenn Blakeney, himself.
“The purpose of those numerous meetings were to encourage such speedy changes to our Human Rights Act and it is my hope and understanding that these changes are likely to be forthcoming at some point before the close of this year.
“The Commission has also collaborated with the advocacy group known as Two Words and a Comma in view of achieving these outstanding changes as it relates to sexual orientation discrimination.
“For the avoidance of any possible lingering doubt, the HRC promotes the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds as currently stated in the Act in addition to grounds such as sexual orientation, age discrimination, and discrimination on the basis of one’s mental health status. This is not to exclude outlawing discrimination of other categories which need be addressed.
“Further, for clarity I refrain from making comment on any specific alleged incidents which have been formally filed as a complaint with the HRC. Section 30 of the Act requires the Commission to honour our confidentiality obligations as it relates to case investigations. Failure to preserve such duties of confidentiality constitute a criminal offence.”
Mr Blakeney’s Youth, Families, Sport and Community Development Ministry did not respond when asked for an update on the plans to ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
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