Cannonier: LGBTQ have the right to happiness’
The Opposition leader said he would vote in favour of same-sex marriage, after his thoughts changed in wake of a referendum on the subject three years ago.
Craig Cannonier added that he recognised the rights of individuals to control their own lives and to be happy.
The One Bermuda Alliance leader explained: “I voted against it and a large part of that had to do with the fact that, historically, I grew up in the church as a Christian man and, still, I’m an ardent believer in the Lord.
“It has been something that the church has frowned on, yet we have so many other sins that are going on around in Bermuda ... men abusing young women — underage — and young boys, that we need to stamp out.
These people have walked through the halls of our churches, they have gone to the front and prayed, and have led in our churches.”
He added: “I recognise that what we need to do, is get on with loving one another and put the judging behind us, aside.
“So with that journey, I recognised that it is important to embrace the community.”
The non-binding referendum in 2016 recorded a majority vote against the introduction of both same-sex marriage and civil unions.
However, the vote had a turnout of less than 47 per cent, with 14,192 against same-sex marriage and 6,514 in favour.
Mr Cannonier said: “I met with several pastors and at the end of the day, I came to the conclusion that, the greatest commandment is love.”
He added: “I think we have way too many issues within society, because we have judged people on things that we shouldn’t have, not understanding the history, not understanding where people have come from.
“That goes for even members of the LGBT community judging someone like myself, who did not agree with same-sex marriage.
“The beauty of it is that upon reflection, upon listening and upon continuing to want to grow in the process of becoming a better human being, I have come to the conclusion, that they have the right of self-determination, they have the right to happiness, as long as it’s not breaking any laws.”
Mr Cannonier said the introduction of a Pride celebration in Bermuda was “an historic time”.
He added: “I believe that the message that the LGBT community, the Pride community, have given is a message of love, unity, harmony and, quite interestingly enough, diversity as well, which is the spice of life.”
The MP said he felt in the past that LGBT people had “not stood together as strongly as they should have”.
He added that the Pride celebration was an opportunity for people to come together to “spread the message of love”.
Mr Cannonier said: “I’m appreciative of the message, because it is a message that should be screamed as loud as possible around the world; that we are all human beings, and that if we treat each other with the foundation of love, we can come to conclusions a whole lot better, and we can heal a whole lot quicker.”
Mr Cannonier called for both spectators and participants to be “respectful” and for everyone to “conduct themselves with decorum, respect in pride in who they are”, without casting aspersions or judgments.
He added he could not attend the parade because he will be at a family funeral.
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