Premier Craig Cannonier and Attorney General Mark Pettingill said today [June 19] that when Mr Pettingill was talking about aspects of religion during the debate on Friday, Mr Pettingill was speaking on his own behalf, not for the Government or the OBA.
Speaking at the House of Assembly on Friday [June 14], Mr Pettingill said, “A large part of the phobia and the fear has come out of religious doctrine that people have been inducted with since they were young. In some churches, not in all churches.”
The Attorney General also said that those “that feel that strongly about this on some religious basis that are entirely homophobic, please get up and leave and go somewhere else.”
Yesterday PLP MP Michael Weeks said, “The Attorney General’s statement that Bermudians who disagree with him and his Party’s stance should ‘flee Bermuda’ shows an unprecedented level of intolerance and portrays his Party as being uninterested in building a diverse and inclusive Bermuda.”
Mr Weeks also said he hopes Premier Craig Cannonier “will move swiftly, exercise his authority and encourage his Minister to apologize to the people of Bermuda.”
Speaking today the Premier said, “In reference to the comments made by the Attorney General in the House of Assembly last week Friday, I’ve had a chance to speak to him and to others who were present, as I was in London at the time.
“I am convinced that the Attorney General was speaking on his own behalf – airing his own personal convictions. He was not, as alleged by Mr Weeks, speaking on behalf of the Government or the One Bermuda Alliance party.
“As I have stated many times before, this Government will continue to make decisions in the interests of the whole, which are centered on care for the well-being of all Bermuda’s people,” concluded Premier Cannonier.
Mr Pettingill said, “During the debate on amendments to the Human Rights Act on Friday, June 14th, I spoke out against those who would use religion to deny those in the gay community their human rights. I offered my personal opinion which should not be construed to be the official position of the Government.
“For clarity, I exercised my freedom of speech and questioned how a 2000 year old doctrine could be used in the modern, democratic world to deny a segment of our population protection enjoyed by other segments of our community.
“My comments generally echoed those made by Mr. Michael Scott, JP, MP, who spoke on the same subject earlier in the day,” concluded Mr Pettingill.
Earlier that day PLP Michael Scott talked about the separation of Church and state saying that way “you do not have the Church imposing a view on the state.”
“When the congregants urge the dogma of the Church on us as elected officials, again, you are still having the Church places its views before us as legislators,” said Mr Scott.
“The things that were done in the name of the Church, the ancient Church, we all know them. Wars were fought, lives taken, people garroted, put on racks…there were some awful things,” continued Mr Scott.
The comments were made while MPs were debating an amendment to the Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on age or sexual orientation, which passed with the vast majority of politicians from both sides of the aisle supporting it.
Premier Craig Cannonier has ruled out same sex marriage, saying: “I can assure you that under my leadership this is not about same sex marriage, and under my leadership that will not happen.”
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