Referendum a ‘costly mistake’

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Equality activists Rainbow Alliance have joined the Human Rights Commission in criticising a proposed referendum on same-sex marriage.

The group also criticised recently tabled legislation to limit marriage to heterosexual couples as “a cowardly route away from equity”.

A statement from the group today said: “The proposed Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act 2016 would effectively legislate discrimination, as pointed out by the Human Rights Commission. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda stands by the HRC’s analysis and underscores that inequality cannot be enshrined in Human Rights Law.

“If the Bermuda Government maintains that marriage is between a man and a woman, how are they also suggesting that civil unions are a viable comparison for same-gender-loving couples?”

The Rainbow Alliance said a referendum would cost taxpayers around $350,000 and would be weighted against the minority LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) population.

“With many LGBTQ Bermudians forced to leave home because of the very discrimination we seek to solve, it is likely that a referendum will not have an accurate reflection of those that will be impacted by the decision,” the group continued.

“We hope that if the Government proceeds with this disappointing referendum, that they hold it during the summer holidays, which would allow a chance for some students who are typically abroad to have a say in this matter. If it does turn out that a majority of Bermudians do support marriage equality, we would expect Government to remove its objectionable policy regarding civil unions and to legislate marriage equality fully.

“Prolonging this decision for a referendum also ushers in more months of campaigning full of rampant homophobia and transphobia that will cause considerable mental anguish and heightened discomfort for the LGBTQ community. Particularly, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to underscore how damaging a continuation of hateful rhetoric will be on LGBTQ youth that are simply trying to exist in a country that forcefully tells them they are somehow abnormal.

“We affirm the existence of our young LGBTQ Bermudians and encourage them to remain hopeful about the future: it gets better.

“We urge the OBA to reconsider this hasty course of action.”

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Published Mar 2, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 2, 2016 at 6:36 am)

Referendum a ‘costly mistake’

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