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Minister stonewalls referendum question

Cabinet Minister Sylvan Richards yesterday refused to comment on how he will vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, branding a question posed to him on the topic as “inappropriate”.

The Minister of Social Development and Sport was asked by The Royal Gazette at a press conference to reveal how he will answer the two questions on the ballot paper on June 23, which will ask voters if they are in favour of same-sex marriage and if they are in favour of civil unions.

He replied that he found the question “inappropriate” and was not prepared to reveal how he planned to vote.

When it was pointed out that Michael Dunkley had told a press conference the previous day that he planned to vote yes for civil unions, Mr Richards said he had already spoken previously in public about his views on the topic.

The One Bermuda Alliance politician was also asked to comment on the Premier's decision to shift responsibility for the Human Rights Commission to the Cabinet Office, meaning it does not fall within Mr Richards's new brief.

“At this point, I am new to the Ministry, so I haven't formulated an opinion on that,” replied Mr Richards. “At this time, I have no opinion on that.”

Mr Richards planned to table a private member's bill in the House of Assembly in February proposing a referendum on same-sex marriage but did not do so after what he described as “consultation with my parliamentary colleagues”.

He said at the time: “My personal belief is I do not support civil unions. However ... we're going to keep the dialogue going inside the One Bermuda Alliance because this is an issue of national importance and it is my personal belief that Bermudians should have the right to vote on the way forward in this particular matter.”

In 2013, he voted against an attempt by Progressive Labour Party MP Wayne Furbert to specifically block same-sex marriage from a Human Rights Act amendment.

“It's time for us to practise what we preach: we are to love one another,” he said then.

“And guess what — the sun will rise tomorrow.”

Cabinet Minister Sylvan Richards refused to discuss how he will vote in same-sex marriage referendum

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Published May 20, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated May 20, 2016 at 8:21 am)

Minister stonewalls referendum question

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