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Douglas and Zeta-Jones back Pride

Thousands of people including Hollywood heavyweights have shown their support for the island's first Pride celebration.

Tony Brannon, a co-creator of the Bermuda Pride Supporters Facebook group, said that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones had agreed to add their names to the public list of backers.

He said he expected the gathering next month to be “amazing” and offered to do whatever he could to support its organisers.

Mr Brannon, a campaigner for same-sex marriage, said a friend suggested making a group for people who support the Pride event and he agreed.

He added: “We created this and, like a lot of things in life, it caught on, so we have a lot of followers in the space of just ten days.

“I am happy to do all I can to support the organisers of Bermuda Pride 2019.

“The Facebook support group is a wide variety of people including folks who visit Bermuda — people that support the cause in general.”

Bermuda Pride Supporters had more than 3,800 members yesterday — and the page included a photograph of actors Mr Douglas and Ms Zeta-Jones dressed in Bermuda-branded clothes ready to play golf.

It was captioned: “Catherine and Michael are proud to be supporters.”

Mr Brannon said: “I am delighted that Michael and Catherine have agreed to support Bermuda Pride 2019 weekend.

“Michael e-mailed me early today agreeing to support and that we could use the image we created for him and Catherine.

“Michael and I have known each other for many years, we are both Bermudians, so to have the support of Michael and Catherine — Bermuda's Hollywood couple — is really great.”

Mr Brannon added a string of Bermuda businesses had been “hugely supportive”.

He said: “I think the first Bermuda Pride parade will be amazing.”

Members of the Facebook group have shared ideas for logos that can be used on T-shirts and flags and several companies have confirmed their support.

A call was made for healthcare professionals to unite for the August 31 event.

One healthcare worker said: “It is so important that we recognise the specific needs of our LGBTQ community and that our LGBTQ patients know they can reach out to their healthcare professionals in a safe and supportive setting.”

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley earlier confirmed that the Bermuda Police Service supported the island's LGBTQ community and that officers would attend the event.

He said last month: “We are there to protect people, but also we are there to build confidence and trust.”

Mr Corbishley added that “being LGBTQ is both normal and an important part of the fabric that makes Bermuda a great — and safe — place to live, work and socialise”.

However, Mr Corbishley's stance was questioned by Michael Weeks, a government MP, last week.

Mr Weeks said: “What message is he sending to the many who oppose same-sex marriage by throwing his support to this event?

“Should it not be a neutral stance by the Commissioner of Police like the rest of the civil servants are asked to do on a daily basis?”

He was speaking during the motion to adjourn in the House of Assembly last Friday.

He said members of the public had expressed unhappiness about the event and that voters made their opinions clear about “same-sex marriage and all it encompasses” in a 2016 referendum.

The majority of those who took part in the poll voted against same-sex marriage and civil unions, but less than 50 per cent of the electorate voted.

Mr Weeks told MPs: “I have been approached by many, some of whom are my constituents, who have made it clear to me they are not in support of this kind of event being held on our island.

“Some have also reminded me of the result of the referendum in 2016 and what that stood for.”

He added: “Some will argue that we live in a democracy and if people want to live their lives as such and march, then they have every right to do so and defend it.

“I venture to say there are some in here tonight that maintain that view.

“I understand. Why? Because on that same principle of democracy, those against have the same right to stand and oppose it, without the threat of being bullied into silence or called homophobic, hateful or biased.”

Dwayne Robinson, a One Bermuda Alliance senator, said yesterday that Mr Weeks's comments were “extremely careless” and that he thought the remarks reinforced a notion that people who were homosexual, bisexual or transgender needed acceptance from a heterosexual majority.

He said: “I believe that most of the LGBTQ+ community would love acceptance, but to me they do not necessarily need it.

“What they do need is equal access to marriage equality and the ability to express themselves openly in their community in which they live and work.

“For the LGBTQ+ community, this parade will be a signal that they can be themselves in their home.”

Mr Robinson added that governments had a duty to “protect minorities, their wellbeing and their rights”.

He said: “By definition, a minority can never succeed against the majority and this is where governments should govern and step in to ensure their protection and rights.”

Hollywood heavyweights: actors Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Photograph by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

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Published July 12, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated July 12, 2019 at 8:06 am)

Douglas and Zeta-Jones back Pride

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