Lawyer advises LGBTQ on hate crime laws
A gay rights group has teamed up with a top lawyer to highlight laws that protect LGBT people.
OutBermuda said it had enlisted Peter Sanderson, head of litigation at law firm Benedek Lewin, to create a list of laws “specifically intended to protect people who may be the victims of abuse or hateful threats”.
The charity added that the announcement of next month's Bermuda Pride event had been met with “reports of hateful and hostile speech based on individual's sexual orientation and gender identity as well as concerns about the gathering itself”.
It added: “While we celebrate our community's love, humanity and pride, our paramount concern will always be each other's safety and dignity.”
Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, the deputy chairman of OutBermuda, said later that the organisation had worked with Mr Sanderson in 2015 on immigration protection for non-Bermudian partners of gay and lesbian Bermudians.
He added: “We've appreciated his guidance and his generous offer of legal acumen as well as his support for the community.”
Mr Hartnett-Beasley said that the charity did not offer legal advice.
However, he added: “Nonetheless, we have an obligation to advocate our community's safety, dignity and wellbeing.
“Leading up to next month's Pride event, we've witnessed aggressive online reactions and wished to offer a simple, easy-to-use resource outlining legal protections for all of us.”
Topics covered include protection available under the Human Rights Act, offensive communications, freedom of expression, intimidation and stalking.
Mr Sanderson said that laws were in place to keep people safe.
He added: “The harder task is to find ways to connect with those we disagree in a spirit of love, understanding and compassion, and to be an example for those with whom we disagree to do the same.
“We might not be able to change each other's minds, but we can change how mindful we are when we speak to each other.”
Mr Hartnett-Beasley said that OutBermuda was grateful to the organisers of Bermuda's first Pride event and that the charity was proud to be a sponsor and a participant.
He added: “As Bermuda's only LGBTQ charity, it is a tremendous opportunity to highlight the good work that we have accomplished and celebrate with our community.”
• Bermuda Pride be held at Victoria Park in Hamilton on August 31. To view the Know Your Rights Legal Protections against Hate Speech, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”