Government being ‘disingenuous’ on rights Sen Kathy Michelmore
The lack of human rights for the elderly and homosexuals are “glaring anomalies” repeatedly met with a “deafening silence” from Government, according to Senator Kathy Michelmore.
The Shadow Health Minister has today accused Government of being “disingenuous” for saying no one is discriminated against in Bermuda.
Sen Michelmore believes the Human Rights Act should protect everyone. She says the country has to add sexual orientation and age to rectify “the current state of unfairness.”
Sen Michelmore was speaking out after Government Senator LaVerne Furbert pointed the finger at the United Bermuda Party for not protecting homosexuals and the elderly when it was in power.
Sen Furbert told the Senate this week that for “whatever reason” in 1981 the then UBP “did not see it necessary” to include these people on the protected list. She was speaking during a debate on the Human Rights (Unreasonable Hardship) Amendment Act, which makes it more difficult for employers to refuse jobs to disabled people.
But Sen Michelmore told
The Royal Gazette that the Human Rights Act 1981 was passed to “enshrine the fundamental rights and freedoms of every person”.
She said: “As with any piece of legislation, it was expected that it should evolve and develop.
“Changes have taken place over the years, with amendments such as the protection of individuals with disabilities from discrimination, a broader definition of sexual harassment, the institution of Commission-initiated investigations, and equal pay for equal work.
“The legislation passed this week in the Senate is another example of a necessary improvement to the principal Act.”
Sen Michelmore went on to say there were still members of the community excluded from protection under the current Act. She said: “It is still possible to discriminate in Bermuda on the basis of age and sexual orientation.
“Each time these glaring anomalies in the Act are raised, they are met with a deafening silence from the Government. “
Sen Michelmore also questioned Government for stating in a ministerial brief to “seek to ensure that no one is discriminated against in our society” and “Wherever we can, we endeavour to give greater protection against discrimination to our citizens.”
She said: “These statements are disingenuous when held up against the lack of action regarding age and sexual orientation, and is indefensible.
The One Bermuda Alliance stands for opportunity, integrity, fairness and inclusiveness. We are guided by the principle of non-discrimination and equal rights and the overriding principle that all people are equal before the law.
“We strive for a Bermudian community that is tolerant of differences and demonstrates mutual respect for all.
“These principles and values are embedded in our Party’s Constitution and we therefore would outlaw all forms of discrimination. We cannot build a better Bermuda without being fair to all our citizens.
“On this basis, we challenge the Government to reassess their lack of discussion regarding expanding the grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act, and to declare to the country how they plan to rectify the current state of unfairness.”
Sen Michelmore’s comments come a couple of months after about 100 placard-waving supporters gathered at City Hall calling for those mistreated due to their sexual orientation to be protected by law.
Speakers talked about the Island’s “discriminatory attitude” saying it was “shameful” that politicians had not taken any action.