Rainbow Alliance: Too many unanswered questions on alleged case of discrimination
One person’s willingness to sign her name in defence of a same-sex couple is “a positive step for the Island”, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said.
But the group, which campaigns for the rights on non-straight individuals, added that the complaint published in
The Royal Gazette yesterday still left questions to be answered.
However: “We’ve seen more and more acts of this nature in Bermuda,” a spokesman said.
“At one point, even straight allies were in the figurative closet, but today we are seeing more people coming forward to show their support for LGBTQ people, and to show that they do not stand for discrimination.
“It’s showing that more and more of Bermuda’s people have matured and are ready to move with society and are accepting of something that shouldn’t have even been an issue in the first place.
“Of course, there are still many who have not yet reached this level of maturity and enlightenment.”
Letter writer Cheryl Pooley said she was certain the owner of an East End business, who decried two girls as being “bad for business”, wouldn’t have similarly denounced a heterosexual couple engaged in behaviour she said was “publicly affectionate, but not over the top”.
The two were harangued as they sat on benches outside the establishment.
The Rainbow Alliance asked: “Did the owner do anything other than chastise the couple? Did she refuse them service or entry into the shop?
“Did she kick them out? It would be hard to prove discrimination under the Human Rights Act.”
The Act is only concerned with equal access to services, the group said, and even with sexual orientation included, denouncing a same-sex couple wouldn’t be against the law.
“Legally, having prejudicial views or saying bigoted things is not prohibited under the Act.”
Added the group: “In any case, the shop owner’s behaviour shows a prejudicial and discriminatory mindset.
“These two girls found themselves in a hostile environment, and realistically, it could not be said that they had equal access to the services of this shop as any other member of the public on account of their perceived sexual orientation.
“The HRA as it currently reads offers those two no protection. Again, it is not clear whether the amendment to include sexual orientation would actually address that situation.
“Fundamentally, though, it shows the case for helping to cultivate a culture of tolerance and respect for the LGBTQ community, independent of any amendments or other legislative provisions.”
Asked in the couples should have been mindful of a prevailing dislike for expressions of gay identity, the Alliance gave a resounding “no”.
“Non-straight couples do not need to be ‘flexible’ to others’ bigotry,” the spokesman replied.
“Asking for them to be flexible to ‘the Island’s cultural mores’ is like asking a person of colour to be flexible with racism. Should Rosa Parks have been respectful of white passengers’ desire not to ride on the same part of buses with her?
“Those mores are what led to the criminalisation of homosexual acts to begin with, or to the creation of anti-miscegenation laws in the US.”
The Island already has indecent exposure laws that cover distastefully amorous behaviour, the group pointed out, adding: “But it’s ridiculous to suggest that any couple should have to limit where they can express their love and affection for each other, simply because the pair happen to be of the same sex.”
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