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Kimathi fights stop-list ruling

Launching challenge: Ayo Kimathi after his controversial speech at Liberty Theatre in September last year (File photograph)

Washington speaker Ayo Kimathi, has launched a legal challenge against a decision by the Bermuda Government that put him on the stop list.

His lawyer Eugene Johnston of J2 Chambers successfully applied to the Supreme Court for Mr Kimathi’s case to be heard.

Mr Kimathi was placed on the stop list after giving what was described as a hate speech on September 26 last year at the Liberty Theatre.

Mr Kimathi’s presentation at the event, billed as an African history and culture event, included claims that homosexuality originated from white Europeans along with other forms of “sexual deviance” including child molestation, bestiality, rape and interracial sex.

This week, Mr Kimathi and David Tucker, the Bermudian who brought the speaker to the island, began a legal challenge against Senator Michael Fahy’s decision to put him on the stop list. He is also challenging the legality of a Human Rights Commission investigation into a complaint made against him.

In his Letter Before Claim, that was put before Chief Justice Ian Kawaley on Monday, he addressed Mr Fahy, who was home affairs minister at the time: “You said that Kimathi made comments which were “entirely offensive and propagate hatred. Nothing in the lecture given by Kimathi promoted hatred of any persons or groups.

“Whilst some in the community may have found parts of Kimathi’s lecture “offensive”, it is hard to see how that alone could be a lawful basis for excluding Kimathi from this country.

“Ironically, what is said to be offensive was Kimathi’s claim that homosexuality has deep European roots, and the further claim that, along with homosexuality, child sexual abuse (in older days referred to as “pederasty”) has similar roots. It is because Kimathi understands the genesis of these things that he refers to them and other sexual practices as “white sex.”

“The European community (of which no doubt you are a member) are not expected to be happy with a person making those claims, especially not a person who comes from a different historical background.”

Mr Fahy, nor Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, who has since taken over as immigration minister, could be reached by press time. However, Mr Fahy said at the time of Mr Kimathi’s visit: “It is absolutely obvious that his [Kimathi’s] comments made in relation to homosexuality and interracial partnerships among other topics that do not bear repeating are entirely offensive and propagate hatred and messages of intolerance and discrimination.”

The Human Rights Commission said it would investigate whether there was any breach of the Human Rights Act which states: “No person shall, with intent to incite or promote ill will or hostility against any section of the public distinguished by colour, race or ethnic or national origins, use in any public place or any public meeting words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.”

Mr Fahy went on: “The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956, Section 31(5) gives the minister responsible for Immigration the power to consider matters relating to any person who, not being a person who possesses Bermudian status, is outside of Bermuda and who has, while in Bermuda, conducted himself in a manner that is undesirable, to be entered on the Bermuda stop list.”

However, the Letter Before Claim said that only the Governor has the power to put people on the stop list. It also said that even if Mr Kimathi’s words were considered to constitute hate speech, Section 9 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 “prohibits section 31(5) of the 1956 Act from being utilised in the way it was”.

The statement went on: “Kimathi was speaking on matters of clear public interest. They concern important political, and moral, decisions facing Bermuda and the global polity… Kimathi’s words were not hateful, but they were frank and honest.”

Mr Kimathi is also believed to have unlawfully sold promotional materials at the event, which was outside of the scope of the permission relating to his visit to Bermuda, which Mr Kimathi also denies.

Mr Kimathi is said to want to return to Bermuda to lecture further.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.