Column: LGBTQ+ Rights, Govt, Voting, More

August 29, 2022 | 15 Comments

[Opinion column written by Taj Donville-Outerbridge]

This past weekend, Bermuda had the pleasure of hosting the post-Covid full-swing return of the annual Pride celebrations. Over the five official events held this past weekend thousands of people came out to protest for LGBTQ+ rights, celebrate, and support. Unfortunately, one thing was noticeably missing – government support.

As a lifetime member and avid supporter of the Progressive Labour Party, I was extremely disappointed and heartbroken this weekend. The PLP and its current elected representatives made no collective attempt to show up and show support for this community. The most unfortunate part is that they were alone in their absence. Almost every other sector of the government and society were represented this weekend, while the PLP, remained silent and absent.

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If this Progressive Labour Party government does not see the value in taking meaningful action to ensuring each and every Bermudian feels safe and welcome in their own country, then something is seriously wrong. This government, its elected Members of Parliament, and its appointed Senators have a duty to not only represent, but to serve and protect, each and every Bermudian regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, or political affiliation. This government has failed in that duty.

This government has made absolutely no attempt to recognize and/or celebrate Pride Month, the pride celebrations held this past weekend, nor the Bermudian LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, members of this government’s cabinet have, on numerous occasions, tried to sell the Domestic Partnership Act and the Anti-bullying and Harassment legislation as successes for this community. These are not successes.

While certainly a step in the right direction, these mediocre half measures only come across as desperate distractions from a government too weak and too afraid to make bold steps toward a truly progressive and inclusive future and to do the right thing for this community. If this government is not willing to act on this issue, they most certainly need to re-examine and reconsider the use of the word ‘progressive’ in their name. From the outside this current government appears to be nothing more than an elitist conservative party concerned only with their own agendas masquerading as a grassroots movement for the people.

A quick look at some of this weekend’s Pride Parade

Given this Progressive Labour government’s utter lack of support and outright neglect of the Bermudian LGBTQ+ community, I cannot see how any LGBTQ+ person and/or ally can cast their vote for this party in the next general election. This government needs to see and understand that LGBTQ+ Bermudians will no longer be silent and that our vote matters!

To that end, I encourage every LGBTQ+ person and every ally to let your MP know that this government has failed. The next time they come knocking on your door asking for your support, you let them know that they will not receive it unless they take serious and meaningful action to ensure every workplace, every school, and every public space in this country is a safe, inclusive, and welcoming space for all LGBTQ+ Bermudians and visitors.

If this government wants to have a serious conversation about what the local LGBTQ+ needs, they should look no further than the articles written by myself this past June, the LGBTQ+ related content published and curated by Bermuda Youth Connect, Media Maya, Linda Bogle-Miezner, and Inclusion Bermuda on various platforms and the other vast resources available online via OUTBermuda and other LGBTQ+ charities and organizations worldwide. To gage the needs of the local community more broadly, this government should hold a town hall with the LGBTQ+ community like they do for other vulnerable and concerned groups like seniors, public school parents, gang/gun violence, and alike. This government could also learn a few things from the current Governor, US Consul General, and some others on what bold leadership in this space and showing up looks like.

 Taj Donville-Outerbridge with the U.S. Consul at this weekend’s Pride Parade

Taj and Consul

Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to thank the following people and groups who did show up this weekend and stepped up where our elected government and my party have failed:

  • Her Excellency Ms Rena Lalgie, the Governor of Bermuda
  • US Consul General Karen Grissette
  • Several members of the One Bermuda Alliance including Scott Pearman JP. MP., Susan Jackson JP. MP., Jarion Richardson JP. MP., and others.
  • Members of past PLP governments including Dame Jennifer Smith JP, Michael Scott JP, and Kim Wilkerson JP.
  • Members of the Bermuda Police Service in and out of uniform.
  • The Department of Health and the Bermuda National Library.
  • Wesley Methodist Church and other members of the religious community.
  • Many local small, medium, and large businesses.
  • Numerous international exempt companies.
  • Family, friends, and other allies.
  • And perhaps most importantly, other members of LGBTQ+ community.

As I said in the forum held this past Friday evening, showing up is the most vital thing anyone can do to show support for LGBTQ+ people and the community. Showing up, and the lack thereof, speaks volumes without the need for words. When it comes time to vote, we will remember who showed up and who didn’t!

- Taj Donville-Outerbridge is a Bermudian activist and student studying at Kings College London. Most importantly, however, he is human. He can be reached via Instagram @_king.taj_ or via email at tdonvilleouterbridge@yahoo.com.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Toodle-oo says:

    And I’m quite sure that your allegiance to the PLP will have you voting for them again in the next election regardless of their actions over SSM and lack of support for the LGBTQ community during the past few days.
    Did you really expect anything different ?
    Get stomped on but they know they can still count on you for the vote.

    • Unbelievable says:

      I was quite stunned when Taj said that at the forum. He made sure to fire a shot at the OBA though as if they dealt with the majority of the issue. The PLP has had this thing for years and they just won’t budge. Maybe Taj doesn’t remember “Two Words and A Comma”. That was a PLP govt. I also couldn’t believe he said that the LGBTQA community needed to accept “compromise”. Everyone knows about the issue. What compromise does anyone need to accept? Lol

      • Victor says:

        The OBA could’ve made change when they were government. Don’t try and rewrite history for the sake of making them look good now. All three Leaders of the OBA said No No No. Dunkley, Craig and sleepy Jean. If the OBA knew at this moment that saying NO again would assure them a win at the next election to beat the PLp. You really honestly believe they wouldn’t say NO to SSM just to win back Govt. They would take it hands down.

        • saud says:

          Thanks, once again, for pointing out that the PLP is even more racist and homophobic than the previous government.

          The majority of Bermudians wanted the plp to spend half a million dollars in the motherland to allow you to discriminate against a few people that you don’t like.

        • Unbelievable says:

          Im not rewriting anything and you won’t accuse me of that. The OBA didn’t deal with the issue like they should have. That was very disappointing. I’m just saying saying that the PLP have held onto the issue for a very long time but have been messing everyone around. In his comments on Friday, Taj said he had been canvassing for the PLP but then he also said he was happy to “compromise” with the PLP over these issues. Sounds to me like his issue is more concerned with political vengeance rather than standing with his community.
          But maybe you weren’t there on Friday in order to comment.

          • Tucker says:

            You, like the others, are attempting to rewrite history.
            You’re too dishonest to admit the truth to yourselves.

            Your PLP are bigots…your credibility is nil.

          • Taj says:

            I would usually not engage in comments but I feel it’s important to make some things clear.

            What I said on Friday night was that no government and/or party is serious about taking meaningful action for this community. In addition I never used the word compromise, I instead offered an alternative view that maybe because both the churches and LGBTQ+ community are unhappy with the ruling that perhaps Domestic Partnership is a fair compromise that represents Bermuda’s current social standing. Is it right…absolutely not, but is it a step in the right direction…absolutely. We cannot focus on the past, we must focus on what the government can be doing for the community outside of SSM as that is not the only or even most important LGBTQ+ issue we have on this island.

            I am disappointed that you would accuse me of not being a tireless advocate for my community because I am. I live boldly and unapologetically in my truth every single day and I speak up for my community every where I go. I’m willing to put in the work to change the hearts and minds of individuals so that the next time this issue arises there isn’t a question of what should be done. The majority of society will be behind the LGBTQ+ community and make it clear to the government that it’s no longer acceptable for us to have less rights.

            If you want to engage further on this issue or about how you can be a better ally for the community, feel free to contact me via my contact details listed above.

            • Toodle-oo says:

              I can tell you one thing . If I was a member of any party , working for them as you have , and they did something like that , something that rebukes the core of my existence they’d never get another dime or minute of my time . Not to mention my vote.
              You are right though that there’s a lot of very serious issues facing this island. Now be honest and admit under which party the majority of them occurred .
              How about your personal share of the debt which currently stands around $145,000 ? Isn’t life grand ?

            • Unbelievable says:

              Taj, all due respect to you and your advocacy (truly) but it’s a bit too late to “compromise” especially when we know who are in halls of power and their connections to the LGBTQ+ community. Compromising is an insult because this issue is not new to anyone. In this day and age, people should have the rights that everyone else has.
              I can only respectfully suggest that since you are in certain political circles (as you possibly suggested), that you continue to push for rights for all of the community because the community is not whole.

  2. Oh well says:

    Hmm I assume he didn’t get the memo months before the last election when the PLPbiu told their voters a big fat no to SSM. Even after this they won 30-6 which had them scrape the UBPoba off their feet and step in as Government. You might not vote plp again but even a blind man knows you will never vote UBPoba.

  3. Love is love says:

    The LGBTQ needs to start their own political party based on the turn out I saw at the festivals they would definitely be the next opposition party. They would beat the OBA and I would vote for them.

    • Beautiful idea says:

      That’s the best idea I have seen on this site for a long time.

  4. Sodosopa says:

    This weekend was a just a confirmation of what we really already know. But the contempt that the PLP holds for the LGBTQ+ community was on full display. No attendees to the events, no acknowledgement of the festivities and most bizarrely, a full security detail at the cabinet office gates during the parade.

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