Same-sex speaker: Talks refusal unfortunate
Same-sex marriage opponent Ryan Anderson has spoken out about the “unfortunate” refusal of the Hamilton Princess, Bermuda to host his talks.
Dr Anderson — who is due to speak instead at the New Testament Church of God, Heritage Worship Centre, today and tomorrow — argued that groups opposing same-sex marriage in the United States had not been offered the luxury to pick and choose which events they accept.
He told The Royal Gazette: “In the same week that we saw American farmers in court because they declined to host a same-sex wedding ceremony, a hotel in Bermuda has cancelled the contract to host two public lectures about the topic of same-sex marriage. It's unfortunate the hotel doesn't want to host civil discourse on an important topic, but that's their prerogative. The bakers, florists, photographers and farmers should similarly be free.”
Dr Anderson, a member of the conservative American think-tank the Heritage Foundation, has been hired by campaigners going under the names Preserve Marriage and Concerned Citizens of Bermuda.
He was originally due to speak at the Hamilton Princess, but general manager Allan Federer cancelled the arrangement, saying the hotel would not be a “venue for anti-diversity discussions”. Dr Anderson's talk comes as the international media reflects on a series of developments on the issue of same-sex relationships in Bermuda.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that those in same-sex partnerships with Bermudians should have the same rights to reside and seek employment as do spouses of Bermudians.
That landmark decision was the result of a legal action brought by a group called the Bermuda Bred Company against both the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney-General, and is said to have potentially profound effects on numerous pieces of legislation.
On Saturday, The Gay Times reported on the Dr Anderson row with an article under the headline: “The Hamilton Princess Hotel does not condone homophobia.” That publication reported that Twitter was awash with support of “the LGBT-friendly hotel”.
Meanwhile the website Gayapolis reported on the landmark ruling with an article on Saturday with the headline: “Bermuda gives rights to same-sex couples.”
Yesterday, Preserve Marriage claimed that its online petition against same-sex marriage had reached more than 7,000 signatures. The online campaign said that its poll represents a wide cross-section of the community including “business managers, educators, hospitality workers, pastors and homemakers”.
Spokesman Melvyn Bassett said in a statement: “People have falsely accused those who support this petition as being hateful or homophobic — both are far from the truth.
“While we have received a barrage of derogatory comments by some who are in favour of same-sex marriage, we stand united and strong on this issue and we're very encouraged by the overwhelming support we have received from the general public. Because of the rapid growth of the signatures, we were accused of having a discreditable website as more than one person can sign the petition from the same computer.
“This feature was intentional to allow the seniors and other sectors of society who may not have internet service the opportunity to sign the online petition. Interestingly, we did identify duplicate entries from those who tried to sabotage our website by entering false names such as ‘Bob Marley' or ‘Jesus F Christ' as coming from the same IP address from which the derogatory comments were made. We take the integrity of our data seriously and remain diligent to remove any duplications and all false information.”
Dr Anderson's talks take place tonight and tomorrow night at 7pm at the New Testament Church of God, Heritage Worship Centre, 59 Dundonald Street, Hamilton.
The former Foreign Office junior minister handling Britain’s overseas territories, including Bermuda, has vowed to fight homophobia throughout the Commonwealth.
On Friday, Baroness Scotland of Asthal became Commonwealth Secretary-General and immediately resolved to address decriminalising homosexuality in 40 of its 53 member states, including Rwanda, Nigeria, Brunei and Dominica, the nation of her birth.
According to The Independent, the matter was not raised at the weekend’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta, much to the chagrin of LGBT organisations.
Baroness Scotland, who worked as junior minister from 1999 to 2001, told the newspaper: “We do not have the right or opportunity to force states, but we can start a really good conversation to work with them so they understand the economic issues in relations to human rights and make the change.”