‘Long overdue’ equality pledge is welcomed


Government has pledged to replace Bermuda’s outdated Human Rights Act with broader legislation that addresses sexual orientation and age discrimination.

The current legislation “no longer meets the standard for human rights in a 21st century democracy”, it declared in the Throne Speech.

Age Concern executive director Claudette Fleming described the potential change in law regarding seniors as “well overdue”.

Meanwhile former Government MP Renee Webb, who tried to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2006, said she was “extremely pleased”.

“It is long overdue, and I trust that it will be addressed post haste in this Parliamentary session, along with any other clauses that demonstrate that equality is what we all believe in rather then playing lip service to it,” she said.

“Politics and religion should never get in the way of all people being treated fairly with dignity and equality.”

She continued: “I look forward to this amendment becoming law, and want to commend [advocates] Two Words and a Comma, which I founded in 2004 with Ayo Johnson, and Susanne Mayall, for all of their hard work.

“The group continued to get the message out that this form of discrimination needs to end.”

Managing director of the Centre for Justice, Venous Memari said: “The promise in this year’s speech represents a step in the right direction. We look forward to seeing the proposed Bill.”

Ms Fleming welcomed the news that seniors could soon be protected under the law from discrimination.

“We are always keen to see seniors featured as a key target audience with respect to Throne Speech initiatives and likewise are keen to welcome any initiatives that seek to improve their quality of life,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing the amendment of the Human Rights legislation as a matter of priority in the next series of House sessions.”

She said she was disappointed that Government failed to provide more information on a 2011 Throne Speech promise a National Ageing Strategy.

“And no definitive date was given for the implementation of the National Health Plan, which has promised to bring more equitable and affordable healthcare coverage to all Bermudians, most significantly to the economically vulnerable of which many seniors are a part,” said Ms Fleming.

“The issues of proper planning with respect to ageing policy and affordable healthcare represent the meat and potatoes of what is needed to sustain a productive ageing population.”

She added: “Simply announcing that there will be more talking about these issues does not provide confidence that anything immediate will be implemented.”

The Throne Speech “did not reveal anything exceptionally new or innovative” on plans to address the increasing ageing population in Bermuda, she said.

“We remain hopeful that these issues will be addressed adequately in subsequent party platforms and future Government action.”

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Published Nov 5, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 5, 2012 at 1:21 am)

‘Long overdue’ equality pledge is welcomed

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