HRC: ‘Erosion of Human Right Protections’

December 14, 2017 | 24 Comments

“Bermuda gained the shameful honor of being the first jurisdiction to allow marriage equality and then remove and replace it with legislation that is aimed clearly at being separate and unequal,” the Bermuda Human Rights Commission said, adding that “we must stem the attacks and erosion of Human Rights that has been pervasive over the past two years of our tenure.”

HRC Human Rights Commission Bermuda Dec 14 TC

Domestic Partnership Act Passes In House & Senate

The Domestic Partnerships Act passed in the House of Assembly on Friday night, and then passed in the Senate yesterday by a vote of 8 – 3, with the five Government and three Independent Senators voting for it.

Same sex marriage became legal in Bermuda following a Supreme Court decision in May 2017, when the court ruled that “common law discriminates against same-sex couples by excluding them from marriage.”

However this Bill will change the legal status, with the Domestic Partnerships Act [PDF] designed to replace same-sex marriages with a domestic partnership which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Having been approved in both the House [24-10] and Senate [8-3], the Bill now heads to Government House for assent.

Human Rights Commission Comments

A Human Rights Commission spokesperson said, “Bermuda has a long history of discrimination and racial injustice and sadly as we near the end of 2017, the Human Rights Commission reflects on our work over the past year in which we responded to complaints on numerous Human Rights issues, including claims of discrimination based on race, place of origin, disability, and claims of sexual harassment.

“The Human Rights Commission heads into 2018 facing the stark reality that, in addition to the discrimination and injustice that we bring attention to, Bermuda is not immune to the populist movements sweeping across the globe. Such movements remind us that the fight for Human Rights requires constant vigilance.

“Yesterday, Bermuda gained the shameful honor of being the first jurisdiction to allow marriage equality and then remove and replace it with legislation that is aimed clearly at being separate and unequal.

“The Human Rights Commission understood the reality that the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 [“DPA”] had a high chance of passing and this is why, whilst we opposed the DPA, we still proposed amendments that we believed would be in the best interests for those affected by this discriminatory Act.

“The Human Rights Commissioners remain committed to advocating and educating on issues of discrimination and injustice. We must stem the attacks and erosion of Human Rights that has been pervasive over the past two years of our tenure.

“The gradual and consistent carving back of rights will result in a weakened mechanism for protection against Human Rights abuses, when global and local trends indicate that we are entering a time in which we need those protections for those who are most vulnerable among us.”

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Comments (24)

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  1. Blackjack says:

    That’s what happens when the Courts start legislating in instead of adjudicating. Not sure who the bigger bunch of busybodies are, the Courts or the HRC. That said, we must look like a complete bunch of idiots to those on the outside looking in – yet again, Bermuda shoots itself in the foot.

    • Mark says:

      The courts stepped in because the government failed to do anything. the ironic thing is if the bigots who fought against civil unions before hadn’t done so, we would already have them now and not ssm. now we have gone backwards. If the entities that protect your human rights are busybodies, I hope they keep being a busybody to you and everyone. And yes, we do look like idiots and bigots. Way to go plp/trump party!

      • Kevin says:

        So Mark, does that mean you are intolerance of those that believe SSM should not be legalized in Bermuda?
        Definition of BIGOT: “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.”
        I find it quite interesting that one side are viewed as fighting for “human rights” (which they are entitled to argue) and the other side are labeled as “bigots” and “homophobic” because they hold a different belief towards marriage (which they are entitled to as well).
        It is possible that one is unwilling to listen to the other person’s/group’s opinion simply because they don’t share the same opinion?

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      The courts cannot legislate. The judge, Charles-Etta Simmons, compared the various pieces of legislation in accordance with their terms. She actually said that ‘This case does not involves difficult points of law or of statutory interpretation; essentially it involves a consideration of the common law as well as the construction of the section 24 of the Marriage Act; section 15 (c) of the Matrimonial Causes Act and an analysis of sections 2 (2), 5, 29 (1), 30B and 31 of the Human Rights Act along with consideration of the Human Rights Amendment Act 2016.’

      She went on to conclude that ‘It is neither the intention nor the purpose of the court to introduce new legislation to give effect to the HRA. There is neither need nor ability in the court to do so. Section 29 of the HRA however empowers the court to declare any provision of law in violation of the prohibitions contained in the HRA to be inoperative. As I have indicated above this includes the common law definition of marriage and statutory provisions reflecting the same. The remedial provisions of the HRA are broad enough to allow for a striking out and or reformulation of certain words.’

      I do not think that is legislating for Bermuda. I think that is applying the law as she found it.

    • Black Soil says:

      Courts don’t and never did legislate Einstein. Courts interpret and provide a mechanism of law enforcement in tandem with the DPP and police.

  2. Blossom says:

    I never heard the HRC really come out, and defend black Bermudians rights or stand up when others bad talk or put down the average Bermudian,but they’re quick to defend others.

    • Mark says:

      they do but you just don’t listen. also, check the stats on how many complaints they receive and how many are to do with race or sex or other grounds of discrimination. I bet that race and sex make up 90% of the discrimination claims that they deal with. you can probably get this from the information officer or the hrc themselves. in any event, you should be better than the plp/trump party and inform yourself before spouting off.

      • Jim Bob says:

        Mark, I think Blossom was talking about coming out publicly with their support. I think Blossom does have a point which is that the HRC always seem to be vocal in the media about same sex issues and deafeningly silent on most other issues.

        • Mark says:

          my response would be that while their are still ongoing race and sexual discrimination issues, they are specific cases because they are clearly protected by the law and that law is not going to change. the difference here is that the lawmakers have been fighting to keep homosexuals as second class citizens and have now enshrined their inferiority in law. obviously, that is something the hrc will be seen to be talking more about. this does not mean that they aren’t protecting the human rights of all of us on a daily basis. I don’t know what kind of press release Blossom would want regarding black Bermudians rights. They are already well protected. We must always fight for those that don’t have a voice and we must always stand on principal, even if we are standing alone.

    • Hijacked says:

      Go to their Facebook page and see for yourself.

    • Politricks says:

      What rights do black Bermudians not have right now?

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        The right to marry the partner of your choice if that partner is the same gender you are.

    • fork says:

      I think the HRC has more important issues to worry about other than the fact that you were offended by America’s cup.

  3. Family Man says:

    Clearly the members of the HRC will now be “invited to resign”.

  4. Cherie says:

    It’s sad that we are governed according to politicans religous beliefs and not what is right for the country.

  5. Silence Do Good says:

    It appears the circus has moved back to town with a new set of clown. I can hear the circus theme music now.

    Da-da duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, circus
    Da-da duh-duh-duh-duh-duh.

  6. Dog gone it. says:

    This should of all have been put to rest back when there was a referendum on this issue in 2015. Could of have saved a lot of trouble and time wasted on a subject that continues to go back and forth. That was more money so well spent…Smdh.

  7. facts of the rock says:

    The British Governor will have NO option but to refuse to sign off on this or face immediate recall in disgrace and an interim Governor will take over.
    No Governor would risk being recalled like that.

    This stupid exercise by the plp will fail!
    as the younger generation are fond of saying…Epic Fail.

    The World Media and it’s people and Leaders are watching this very carefully as it unfolds,not to forget business leaders are taking a very clear interest too.

  8. Tide watcher says:

    What a bunch of BOZO’s we have running this little Island. They couldn’t properly and effectively plan their way out of a wet paper bag. Shameful bunch of non leaders. I hope this comes back to bite you and everyone here in the backside, then and only then might you say ” we made a poor decision”. Adultery is a sin but how many of you are living that life? Just saying.

  9. Checkered Board says:

    This is not a matter of “human rights”. It is not a “human right” to defy the set laws and behavior and values of a society. We are a Christian nation. If you lived in Dubai or Afghanistan, would you people be making the same futile cries? Surely not. You have to respect the land you are in. This land is Christian, whether you like it or not. It was founded as Christian, and is majority Christian, and we have the most churches per square mile so nobody can say we are not. If you don’t agree with Christianity and its values, then I suggest you move somewhere else that does accept your beliefs and desires. Marriage is between the opposite genders, and this is nature. Men and women make offspring. Women and women do not, and nor do men and men. End of story. The vast majority cannot and should not bow down to the demands of a minority who deviate from the standard norm. How is it fair that a handful of people force a whole nation to conform to their minority beliefs, which go completely opposite to the set norm? It is not fair. That is truly a violation of our human rights. Don’t force your laws on us.

    • PBanks says:

      Checkered – why is the reproduction argument still a thing? You must surely know that people don’t need marriage to make babies. Or vice versa.

      Marriage isn’t natural by any stretch. Only humans marry. So that argument has to be flushed down the drain as well.

      And when it comes to Christian values, why does the law not mirror the Bible? Why are fornication, adultery, working on the Sabbath, not crimes? If Bermuda wants to be defined according to a religious text, then go full hog already and push to implement those laws too. At least that way the country can’t be accused of being hypocritical in which Biblical laws are applied.

  10. Pooh Bear says:

    Divide and conquor, folks. Divide and conquor.

  11. When the oba swung into POWER, Mark Pettingil, months later had put forth a proposal. That Saturday, media had as its front page news that Pettingil had said ,” If you do not like what is happening here…..LEAVE!”
    Well, if there are those who do not like the new law……..EXIT!!!!
    What has gone around, has definitely come back!!!!

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