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Kimathi placed on Bermuda stop list

Ayo Kimathi

Washington speaker Ayo Kimathi has been placed on Bermuda’s stop list by the Minister of Home Affairs in light of a speech he gave condemning homosexuality and interracial marriage.

The Human Rights Commission and Centre for Justice have also responded strongly to Mr Kimathi’s verbal attack on Saturday, which has been labelled “hate speech” by community minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin.

The presentation, organised by Bermudian David Tucker, was billed as an educational speech about African history — but the subject veered off to include claims that homosexuality originated from white Europeans along with other forms of “sexual deviance” including child molestation, bestiality, rape and interracial marriage. Yesterday afternoon, senator Michael Fahy stated that Mr Kimathi had conducted himself undesirably, adding that his comments were “entirely offensive and propagate hatred and messages of intolerance and discrimination”.

Sen Fahy said that Mr Kimathi, a US national also known as the “Irritated Genie”, had also been selling promotional material outside the scope of permission for his visit.

The Human Rights Commission said it has received formal complaints about the speech and is investigating the matter.

The Centre for Justice encouraged anyone who was offended by the content of the speech to take the issue up with the relevant organisations including the Bermuda Police Service.

Sen Fahy stated: “I have received credible information from persons in attendance at the event on Saturday and also reviewed in great detail the articles written by The Royal Gazette about Mr Kimathi’s speech, as well as those written by overseas publications on Mr Kimathi himself. As a result of our enquiries I am of the view that his comments are highly offensive and that he is not the kind of person we want to visit Bermuda.

“By way of background, the Department of Immigration, which comes under my remit, received an application on September 2, for a letter of permission from Zentech ICT’s Mr David Tucker.

“The application was in accordance with the current work permit policies and therefore was approved administratively by the Department. I should add that Mr Tucker made two previous applications in March 2015 for two other speakers and these too were approved administratively. Neither of those speakers raised any concerns to the Department. As such, there was no concern regarding the application made for Mr Kimathi.

“The application for Mr Kimathi was solely for the purpose of speaking in relation to the event as advertised, called: ‘African History and Culture Come Alive’. It is very clear, therefore, based on the title of the proposed lecture, that Mr Kimathi ventured far off the subject matter published.

“In addition, based on information received, I understand that he undertook the selling of promotional materials at the event which was outside of the scope of the permission relating to his visit to Bermuda.

“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’.

“Immigration’s records show that Mr Kimathi’s visit to Bermuda was for the period September 24 to 28. In my view, he conducted himself in an undesirable manner and should not be permitted to land in Bermuda in the future.

“It is absolutely obvious that his 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.

“His comments are offensive and he did not have permission to sell the materials that he did. I have therefore taken the decision to add Mr Kimathi to the Bermuda stop list effective immediately.

“The above decision is being applied to Mr Kimathi only. In other words, Mr James Small, who also spoke on Saturday, will not be added to the Bermuda stop list.”

On his website, War On The Horizon, Mr Kimathi has also endorsed the killing of whites and “black traitors”.

The Human Rights Commission said it is to 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.”

It is also a criminal offence under section 11 of the Summary Offences Act 1926 to use “any threatening, abusive, insulting or offence words, gestures or behaviours” in a public place.

Chairman of the HRC Michael Hanson stated: “The HRC has been made aware of comments that took place during an event at Liberty Theatre on Saturday. The Commission has already received formal complaints related to the event.

“These formal complaints will now be dealt with in line with the Commission’s powers to investigate and rule on any potential breaches of the Human Rights Act 1981.

“The Commission must be cognisant of not prejudicing the outcome of any investigation and potential Tribunal Hearing into these matters. As these issues are now the subject of a formal inquiry the Commission will not be making any further comment in respect of this specific event at this time.

“The public is urged to review the Act in detail and to make any requisite queries and complaints to the Commission if they feel their rights have been breached. The public is also welcome and encouraged to call or visit the Commission’s office, located in the Mechanics Building on 12 Church Street, to learn more about the Act and the function of the Commission. In particular, as set out in the preamble of the Act, our duty to recognise and uphold the inherent dignity, and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.”

Venous Memari, managing director for the Centre for Justice, condemned the speech as “offensive and inflammatory”. She said anyone who was offended could seek redress through the Human Rights Commission and the Bermuda Police Service.

“We encourage anyone who was affected by what Mr Kimathi said to contact the Human Rights Commission and the Police Service,” stated Ms Memari.

“We also remind everyone that the right to freedom of expression protected under the Bermuda Constitution is not an absolute right and should not be used as a shield or sword to promote ill will and incitement.”

Organiser of the event and applicant of the work visa Mr Tucker could not be contacted by this newspaper yesterday. He has previously told us he was aiming to “illuminate people’s minds”. It is understood that Mr Kamathi has left the Island.

Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean refused to comment when contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday.

• On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. 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.