PLP leader critical of LGBTQ group’s ‘attack’ and calls for tolerance of ideas
Advocacy groups should practice tolerance and eschew the use of “force or coercion”, according to Opposition Leader Marc Bean.
In an interview with
The Royal Gazette on Friday, Mr Bean referred to criticism from the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda shortly after he had been selected as leader of the Progressive Labour Party.
He said his effort to discuss private property rights during a debate on the Equalities Act last year led to an “attack” by the LGBTQ support group.
“Within two weeks of me being named Leader of the Opposition I was attacked in
The Royal Gazette by the Rainbow Alliance for getting up and having a discussion during the debate on the Equalities Act,” Mr Bean said.
“This is at a time when the majority of the MPs in the House at that time refused to even participate let alone sit in the Chamber.
“I got up and I gave a view based on a classical liberal view on respect for private property rights. That wasn’t here or there, for or against.
“It was just private property rights. Yet that was the pretext for an attack and questions to the Opposition leader when I wasn’t even the Premier. If people call for tolerance then tolerance has to be mutually reciprocal.
“I don’t like no movement whether it’s for any special interest whether its for gay rights, whether it’s for religious rights, whether it’s for economic rights I don’t like no movement that uses force and/or coercion to protect their interests or to enhance their interests.”
Mr Bean was referring to a statement made by the group in January which addressed both the Opposition Leader and the new Government.
It urged the Government to keep its election promise to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination, asked for clarity on the PLP’s position and criticised Mr Bean’s House of Assembly comments.
It also called on Mr Bean “and any other unsure politicians or members of the public to reach out to groups like ours and familiarise themselves with the very real social injustices perpetrated against the LGBTQ community in Bermuda”.
He would not elaborate on why he felt the group had been coercive in its approach.
But he said: “I do not like any special interest group this isn’t specific to the gay lobby I don’t like any special interest group period that uses force and or coercion that could be subtle, it could be subjective to influence people’s thinking and to change their mind from one way to a next.
“Let people have freedom, let people have free will to exercise that free will and to apply their conscience to any issue about moral questions.”
Mr Bean has declined to say how he would vote on amendments to the Human Rights Act tabled by the Government last week.
Among the amendments is a prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said the group acknowledged that Mr Bean expressed his views during last year’s take note motion on the Equalities Act, “when no else would”.
“Mr Bean stated, ‘tolerance does not equate of acceptance of behaviour’. He also expressed that as a home-owner, he does not believe that he should have to rent to a homosexual if he disapproves of their lifestyle and that they should instead buy their own homes: ‘In other words, gay people can go and buy a mansion, and they could have the biggest rainbow circle of gay parties and bashments [sic] on their property.’
The spokesperson said its January statement “was not a political manoeuvre”, adding: “The Rainbow Alliance is committed to seeking equal rights and ensuring that the Human Rights Act amendment that was committed to by both parties did not fall to the wayside as an unresolved campaign promise.
“The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda asked the Leader of the Opposition to assume responsibility for his philosophies and clarify his position on the subject of human rights. Until today, The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda have not heard from him.
“The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda is a non-partisan, peaceful advocacy group that lobbies for basic, fundamental human rights through community education events and peaceful demonstrations.
“To insinuate that we have somehow disrespected or attacked Mr Bean by acknowledging the weight of his leadership and views is factually incorrect.”
The spokesperson continued: “The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda will not be bullied into apologising for vehemently demanding that the Human Rights Act be amended to provide protection for discrimination under the grounds of sexual orientation, but this demand for change comes in the form of peaceful, reasoned lobbying, not ‘force or coercion’.”
And he rejected the characterisation of the group as a “special interest group”.
“Everyone has a sexual orientation and this legislation will afford all people with a sexual orientation — not just gay people — the freedom from unfair, hurtful, and discriminatory treatment as well as afford them the freedom to pursue their well-being unobstructed.
“As Mr Bean has stated that he believes in freedom, we look forward to his support of the Human Rights Act Amendment.”