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HRC: Disabilities are leading cause of discrimination claims

Minister of Social Development Tinee Furbert (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Almost one in three of the complaints received by the Human Rights Commission in 2020 were claims of discrimination on the grounds of disability, according to the Commission’s annual report.

The report, tabled today in the House of Assembly by Tinee Furbert, the social development minister, said of the 140 complaints filed in the year, 31 per cent concerned disability, while 16 per cent were claims of discrimination on the grounds of place of origin.

Fourteen per cent were made on the basis of gender while just eight per cent were claims of racial discrimination.

Ms Furbert said 59 per cent of the claims cited claims within the protected area of employment while discriminatory workplace harassment amounted to nine per cent of claims.

She added: “Of the total intakes received in 2020, 14 (10 per cent) remain ongoing with the remaining 126 (90 per cent) resolved.”

Ms Furbert said the Covid-19 pandemic required government to balance public health measures against the safeguarding of civil liberties and human rights.

“The complex nature of the Covid-19 crisis reaffirmed the critical role of National Human Rights Institutions in promoting a human rights-based approach to managing the pandemic. Fundamental considerations around individual and collective rights emerged in response to the crisis, as Bermuda recognised we are only as safe and secure as our most vulnerable,” she said.

Ms Furbert said the report also noted the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in the United States saw more than 7,000 Bermudians converge in solidarity to support this historic human rights movement and Ms Furbert praised the work of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB) to produce the Black History in Bermuda Timeline.

She said: “Contemporary research by historians and academics continues to fill a massive void left by earlier works focused on select descriptions of Bermuda’s colonial history largely erasing the Black narrative.”

Ms Furbert also acknowledged the importance of the addition of sexual orientation as a ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act.

She said: Due to Covid-19, Pride 2020 was a stark contrast to the jubilant celebration of 2019; however, it was no less significant. The August 8 convening marked the seventh anniversary of the amendment to include ‘sexual orientation’ in the Human Rights Act, 1981.

“The executive officer’s remarks emphasised that the addition of sexual orientation as a protected ground enhanced Bermuda’s human rights framework, and renewed our commitment to the fundamental rights and freedoms of all.“

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Published July 16, 2021 at 1:15 pm (Updated July 16, 2021 at 4:23 pm)

HRC: Disabilities are leading cause of discrimination claims

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