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Do not boycott Bermuda, equality group urges

An international equal rights group based in the United States has urged its members to ignore a call to boycott Bermuda over its decision to ditch same-sex marriage.

Jessica Stern, the executive director of OutRight Action International, said the ruling this month was “a step backwards for equality”, but she added: “However, in response to this decision a misguided reaction is unfolding — a call to #BoycottBermuda.

“The online campaign is spearheaded mainly by people in the US and Europe, who believe that a tourism boycott will show the Bermudian Government that repealing same-sex marriage was a mistake.

“To be clear, the demand for this boycott is not coming from grassroots organisations in Bermuda. In fact, LGBTIQ Bermudians are coming out against the boycott.

“This campaign stands to hurt rather than help the LGBTIQ community in Bermuda.”

The Domestic Partnership Act, which replaces same-sex marriage with civil unions, was passed by MPs and the Senate in December, and given Royal Assent by John Rankin, the Governor, this month.

Social-media users across the world launched a protest against the Act with the Twitter hashtag #BoycottBermuda.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote on Twitter on February 12: “Can we get #BoycottBermuda trending? Countries that are slow to evolve are one thing. Countries going backward are another altogether.”

British photographer Thomas Faull wrote: “Rip up travel plans to homophobic Bermuda #BoycottBermuda.”

Bermudian actor Nick Christopher wrote: “@Bermuda this is shameful. I love representing my country all across America doing what I love, but I will not be associated with hate and injustice. I'm deeply saddened. #MarriageEquality #WakeUp #BoycottBermuda.”

Former Bermuda Sun journalist Mark Kennedy, now based in Bogota, Colombia, wrote: “#Bermuda, as much a backwards-looking, religious backwater as I remember it.”

Ms Stern described the boycott as uninformed and ill-advised.

She said: “It could increase discrimination against local LGBTIQ people, who may very well be used as scapegoats for any negative impact on tourism and the economy; not to mention the consequences for LGBTIQ people who themselves work in the tourism industry.

“People, and the media, in the US and Europe ought not to push their own agendas and instead listen to the priority of LGBTIQ groups on the ground.

“This simple but important rule is central to the way that OutRight functions and engages in enabling social justice.

“We consult, listen to, and are guided by local leaders who are best placed to inform strategy and programmes to bring about change.

“Without listening to voices from the ground, we all stand to do more harm than good. I ask that you #DontBoycottBermuda and instead learn how to empower local organisations and the movement there.”

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Published February 20, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 20, 2018 at 8:00 am)

Do not boycott Bermuda, equality group urges

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