Same-sex ruling makes sense
The same-sex debate may have ruffled a few feathers and has been greeted by opponents with grunts of indignation, but in the greater scheme of things, this isn’t an issue that needs lengthy discussion.
Equal rights are not malleable.
Freedom of choice must be bracketed with freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
In reality, that isn’t always the case but that’s what the world is striving for and Bermuda can play a small part by allowing same-sex partners to live their lives as they are entitled to.
It would be wrong to trivialise the issue but it does seem there has been a lot fuss over a ruling that lifts the Island into the 21st century, will not impact on others and will be accepted by a large majority.
The debate — and it should never have got this far — is vaguely interesting and obviously controversial, but it has stirred a pot that was nothing but lukewarm.
The simple fact is that few are worried about how others run their lives; most have enough problems of their own.
They may talk about gay rights in casual conversation, but it rarely escalates into heated argument. And they take little notice of gay marches.
Sports followers are far more interested in the Premier League, the NFL or other major events.
“If it doesn’t affect me, why would I be bothered to interfere?”
But because of its size, Bermuda tends magnify matters that bear little significance elsewhere. Small groups can be more influential than they should be.
We’re as guilty as the other media of blowing what might be considered minuscule irritations out of proportion. The global powers and many smaller nations focus on crises such as the fight against IS, increased terrorism, migrants pushing their way into Europe, climate control and the economy.
Human rights will always be on the agenda and activists work feverishly to bring to light the atrocities, torture and child abuse, which haunt the world. But rarely is the plight of homosexuals front and centre.
Here there are small pockets in the community who are consumed with outrage over the recent Supreme Court ruling.
At last count, 7,000 residents had reportedly signed a petition condemning those who choose not to engage in a traditional relationship.
That leaves about 53,000 who are totally supportive of that choice and the rest ambivalent.
Indeed, it’s those 7,000 who are now ridiculed for their perceived homophobic leanings.
Moving one step forward, gays can now enjoy some of rights afforded all Bermudians, allowing their partners to reside and seek employment on the Island.
Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, who made the ruling, has since made the point that not even legislation is required to put into place that practice.
That does not really impinge on the lives of heterosexuals.
The next step will be to rid the Island’s draconian law that prevents sex-same couples from joining in matrimony. It’s not a case of whether it will happen, but when.
That will, no doubt, further prompt rage from certain church communities who appear to be the main opponents.
That’s when the Island’s hypocrisy comes to the fore.
They may want to revisit the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV).
Thou shall not murder.
Thou shall not commit adultery.
Thou shall not steal.
Crimes all rife in Bermuda.
If they are so shocked by the gay lifestyle, why not target their anger in the direction of the murderers, the adulterers and the thieves?
Add in the child molesters, of which Bermuda has too many to count.
These are the Island’s pariahs.
Do the critics really believe these crimes are less ungodly than sexual preference?
Over the past decade, entertainers, sportsmen and other public figures have “come out”, opening the floodgates, emboldening those who feared being ostracised. In the main, it hasn’t happened.
Same-sex partners have been allowed to shed the stigma associated with homosexuality.
A few retain the camp manner that can be a source of hilarity but they do so at their own choosing, often for the amusement of others — this is prevalent in TV comedies and films. The old Carry On films depended on these camp characters to provide the laughter.
The Chief Justice’s ruling comes as a result of a legal action brought by the Bermuda Bred Company against both the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General.
This group of Bermudians had argued that the Immigration and Protection Act had to be read in conjunction with the Human Rights Act, which does not allow discrimination on the grounds of marital status or sexual orientation.
The group’s argument is as sound as it is sensible.
Can’t we now just move on and deal with matters of consequence?
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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