Homosexuality debate needs to evolve - Senator
Government Senator Cromwell Shakir yesterday called for Bermudians to elevate the level of debate on homosexuality saying he's against all forms of discrimination.
The Progressive Labour Party member spoke out after anti-homophobia campaigner Krys Assan was publicly ridiculed at a candlelit vigil for victims of gang violence at the weekend.
Speaking in the Senate's Motion to Adjourn yesterday, Sen Shakir said: “I'm very concerned about the level of discussion on the subject of discrimination.
“I want to be able to speak to the entire Bermuda public. We should evolve the debate, up the level of the debate and evolve the discussion as it relates to religious and faith-based issues or gay rights and human rights.
“We should want to take a bold step and consider that the place needs to be very respectful in any form of discussion and be more accountable in any forum that we have.”
He said the PLP had been formed by people who opposed discrimination.
“Certainly, I'm no professional or social scientist that has an opinion on this subject, but I stand on the shoulders of any of the people who have been activists who have been working against discrimination in any form,” he said.
“I proudly stand on the shoulders of the many activists in Bermuda, let alone those that formed the Progressive Labour Party, motivated by the idea of fighting against discrimination, and many of the others that would improve the situation of Bermuda.
“I want to say outright discrimination in any form in my view is unacceptable.”
Last month, about 100 people demonstrated outside City Hall, calling for Government to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Ms Assan, 22, organised the campaign after claiming she was mistreated at a Bermuda hotel; because the Human Rights Act doesn't currently cover sexual orientation, the Human Rights Commission wasn't able to launch an investigation into Ms Assan's claim.
Preacher Scott Smith, who describes homosexuality as “an abomination”, mocked Ms Assan at Saturday night's Mothers Against Senseless Killings event, saying: “Assan, Ass-an, Ass-an, Ass, what does that tell you?”
He later apologised for going too far, but maintained gay people are “going to bring damnation to Bermuda's shores”.
Sen Shakir said some people in Bermuda believe homosexuality is a dirty word, adding: “I believe this subject is not going to go nowhere.”
HRC chairman Shade Subair last month said she was hopeful the Human Rights Act would be amended before the end of the year, meaning sexual orientation discrimination would be made illegal.