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Amnesty head joins postcard campaign calling for sexual orientation to be added to Human Rights Act

The head of a global charity has lent his support to a campaign to get sexual orientation added to Bermuda’s Human Rights Act.

Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, signed a postcard calling for the Act to be amended at the organisation’s 30th international council meeting in the Netherlands in August.

The postcard campaign was officially launched by the Bermuda branch of Amnesty at the meeting in Noordwijkerhout.

Amnesty Bermuda vice chairman Nelleke Hollis told

The Royal Gazette the postcards were an attempt to lobby the Bermuda Government to stop perpetuating discrimination based on sexual orientation.

She said hundreds of signatures from fellow human right campaigners were gathered at the meeting, including those of Mr Shetty and Ugandan gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who won the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

Ms Hollis said the postcards should send a strong message to Premier Paula Cox and her Cabinet to stop dragging their heels on the long-awaited amendment.

“Promises for inclusion [of sexual orientation in the HRC Act] by the Bermuda Government have been forthcoming since 2001,” she said.

“However, to date, the Bermuda LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community remains in limbo as they do not have recourse when discriminated against.

“Amnesty Bermuda is calling for Premier Cox to exhibit leadership in this area.”

Cabinet Minister Glenn Blakeney pledged late last year to bring forth amendments to the law to ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and age before June 2012 at the latest.

Human Rights Commission chairman Shade Subair, meanwhile, has said she expects the Act to be amended before the end of 2011.

It wasn’t possible to reach the Premier or Mr Blakeney for comment last night.

Ms Hollis said three representatives from Amnesty Bermuda attended the meeting in the Netherlands, when they also raised the issue of the rights of the Island’s migrant workers.

“There were over 250 representatives from 69 countries,” she said. “The meeting focused on governance and policy surrounding the organisation’s effectiveness in addressing human rights abuses worldwide.

“Amnesty Bermuda representatives took the opportunity to network with many sections and structures in a bid to learn best practices and pave the way for closer global collaboration and support.

“It was a rewarding experience for the representatives, who look forward to seeing changes for a better Bermuda, in the near future. Amnesty Bermuda believes Premier Cox can make the changes that are so desperately needed.”

Useful website: www.amnestybermuda.org.

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Published September 27, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 27, 2011 at 10:22 am)

Amnesty head joins postcard campaign calling for sexual orientation to be added to Human Rights Act

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