Same sex marriage not on Govt’s agenda

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  • Community Development Minister Wayne Scott

    Community Development Minister Wayne Scott

Same sex marriage is not on Government’s agenda, Community Development Minister Wayne Scott said.

Mr Scott reiterated that Government proposes to amend the Human Rights Act by adding sexual orientation to the list of prohibited categories of discrimination in the areas of the provision of goods, services and accommodation.

But, he said, the changes will not go any further.

And an overhaul of human rights legislation which would see the repeal of the Human Rights Act in favour of a comprehensive Equalities Act, as planned by the former administration, will not go ahead.

“We are not going down the path of an Equalities Act, we are updating the Human Rights Act,” Mr Scott said on Friday. “Goods, services and accommodation are protected categories under the Human Rights Act.

“I can tell you that same sex marriage is not on the agenda, it is not being discussed. That is not the intention of amending the Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act updating is dealing with the provision of goods, services and accommodation which our basic Human Rights Act now covers.”

Earlier this month, campaigners welcomed news that the UK parliament had voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation which would legalise same sex marriage.

Mr Scott said that the UK example came about as a result of that government replacing its Human Rights Act with an Equalities Act which was a “huge piece of legislation”.

“That is not something we are doing, we are not looking at amending the Marriage Act in Bermuda. This is an updating of the Human Rights Act.”

He said: “The intention of this legislation is not to set the framework for same gender marriage. That is not something that, as a government, we are looking at doing.”

Asked whether he personally supported same sex marriage, Mr Scott said his “opinion is absolutely irrelevant to my capacity as a minister”.

“Government has a responsibility to create an environment where no discrimination in the provision of goods services and accommodation happens and that’s what we are doing.”

The British same sex marriage vote led to rifts within Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party and growing talk of a leadership challenge.

Rights campaigner Valentino Tear has called on the Government to follow Britain’s example.

Mr Tear, a Bermudian, said he knew from personal experience that those involved in gay relationships that break down can find themselves cut adrift financially and without any legal protection.

The previous Progressive Labour Party Government in Bermuda had refused to countenance the notion of same-sex marriage.

“My Government is not inclined at this time nor any time in the future to consider civil union or same sex marriage,” said then Families Minister Glenn Blakeney last September.

PLP Senator Diallo Rabain challenged Government to make its position clear on same sex marriage at Wednesday’s Senate meeting but did not respond to queries seeking clarity on the Opposition party’s current position.

The PLP does, however, support prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination.

“That is something that I will admit, should have been done, could have been done and we are now at the point where it looks like I hope the OBA will follow through with their pledge to end that,” Sen Rabain said.

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Published Feb 25, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 24, 2013 at 11:47 pm)

Same sex marriage not on Govt’s agenda

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