The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda — a newly formed collective of people interested in helping make Bermuda a safer space for LGBTQ people — said they welcome any change to Bermuda legislation which will extend basic human rights and protections to people in Bermuda.
The group was responding to comments made during last week’s Throne Speech, in which the Governor said: “Your Government has made a determination. Justice is about fairness and equality of access for all. Bermuda does not have that standard and it is to our collective discredit as a democratic country in the 21st Century.
“Bermuda’s Human Rights Act 1981 no longer meets the standard for human rights in a 21st Century democracy. Government proposes therefore to replace the outdated Act in this Parliamentary Session with a new broadly based Bill that will address protection against discrimination for a range of characteristics including age and sexual orientation,” continued the Governor.
A statement from the Rainbow Alliance said: “We encourage the government to acknowledge the need for, and work to create, legislation and government programmes which will counteract the discrimination and homophobia faced by the LGBTQ community.
“The Throne Speech states that the government will “assess the feasibility of introducing an Equality Act”, which proves to be a vague and non-committal statement of good intention with little substance. We remain optimistic about the government’s proposal of protections banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, included in the proposed ‘Equality Bill.’
“However, we also recognize that this legislative change has been promised to us for years and the process of determining the ‘Equality Bill’ provides further delay for a change long overdue. We hope that through the longer process of “assessing” a new bill (rather than simply amending the Human Rights Act as it stands) that the government seriously investigates how to make Bermuda’s legislation responsive to the needs of all people of Bermuda.
“This would include the protection of people from discrimination based on not only ‘sexual orientation’, but also include ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’. Furthermore, greater government support in addressing the roots of discrimination and homophobia in Bermuda are needed alongside such legislation.
“In sum, we support to government’s extension of basic human rights to more of Bermuda’s people, but we insist that if this legislation must be further delayed by the total overhaul of Bermuda’s human rights legislation, that the complete and inclusive assessment is made and includes educational efforts to reduce discrimination and homophobia on the island,” concluded the Rainbow Alliance.