Column: 10 Things To Advocate For Pride Month

June 8, 2023

Taj Donville-Outerbridge Bermuda June 21 2022

[Opinion column written by Taj Donville-Outerbridge]

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest and most politically active LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, this week declared a national state of emergency for members of LGBTQ+ community both living in and visiting the United States. They cited the exponential rise of horrific anti-LGBTQ+ legislation across the United States, and worldwide, which has drastically increased rates of anti-LGBTQ+ violence and homophobic rhetoric as the catalyst for this decision. Given Bermuda’s physical and social proximity to the US coupled with the current PLP government’s clear distain for the LGBTQ+ community, I can only assume this anti-LGBTQ+ movement will soon spill over into our community.

Pride Month and Pride are when the LGBTQ+ community can celebrate and be celebrated, however we must never forget that Pride is first and foremost, a protest. And now, more than ever, we must protest. We must protest not only for ourselves but for our LGBTQ+ siblings worldwide who are facing legislative attacks and physical violence that we, as LGBTQ+ Bermudians, can’t even imagine. We must protest for our siblings in Uganda, for example, whom are being forced to flee their home country by a government that would gladly see them exterminated.

Now that I have established why we must protest, here is what we in Bermuda should be protesting for. I am frequently asked what the government can do to support, protect, and empower the local LGBTQ+ community so I have taken upon myself to compile a list. The 10 action areas listed below have been compiled based on anecdotal conversations with members of the local community as well as my own research into best practice and potential policy implications. I have also categorized them based on how I think they should be prioritised.

Paramount Priority

  • 1. The development and implementation of a legal framework for gender affirming care and clear guidance to support social transitioning [name changes, gender marker changes on legal documents, etc]. As the transgender community becomes more visible it vital that they have streamlined access to the healthcare and other services they need and deserve to thrive as their authentic selves. OUTBermuda could and should start by developing guidance for where/how to access services related transitioning as well as creating a list of LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirmative healthcare services/providers.
  • 2. The amendment of the Human Rights Act [1981] to include “gender identity” as a protected class. The current legislation only protects on the basis of sex and sexual orientation so those who have a different gender identity from their sex assigned at birth are not currently protected by this legislation. Diverse gender identities are becoming increasing common and more fluid, especially among young people, so this is necessary to ensure everyone continues to be protected from discrimination.
  • 3. The implementation of mandatory comprehensive and inclusive sex and relationships education in schools starting at the primary level. Many have pleaded the government to action this but there has been no movement which makes no sense given the benefits its brings are well researched and documented.

High Priority

  • 4. The implementation of government/corporate funded research and data collection around the LGBTQ+ community. This can take many forms including adding sexual orientation and gender identity as optional categories in the next CENSUS, the Bermuda Health Council conducting research into the mental and physical health of the local LGBTQ+ community or OUTBermuda conducting regular research into the status and needs of the local LGBTQ+ community. As any researcher or policymaker will tell you, data is vital. Having access to accurate and up-to-date data on the status and needs of the local LGBTQ+ community will make it easier for the government and charities to pinpoint areas of greatest need and focus their work around these areas. This data will also make it easier for activists like me to lobby the government for necessary policy changes and initiatives.
  • 5. The implementation of mandatory sensitivity and cultural humility training for teachers, school councillors, social service workers, hospital staff, police, and anyone else encountering vulnerable populations. These are the people who are meant to make us feel safe in some of most vulnerable moments and they must be able to leave their own biases at the door to provide inclusive, safe, and efficient services.
  • 6. The implementation of government funded resources and initiatives to support and empower the LGBTQ+ youth. The government has given grants to sports clubs, the Bermuda Future Leaders program and many other community initiatives but have not given one cent to initiatives focused on supporting the LGBTQ+ community. They can start by supporting the Bermuda College Village and OUTBermuda’s OUTLET program. The government should also produce official resources for parents of LGBTQ+ youth as well as mandatory restorative and educational programs/resources for the parents of students [and the students themselves] who bully LGBTQ+ students.

Medium to Low Priority

  • 7. The addition of single stall gender neutral toilets in all buildings, preferably on every floor. The government should lead by example here, but private companies have more flexibility to make this happen sooner.
  • 8. The implementation of LGBTQ+ networks in various settings. All senior schools [students aged 13 and up] should have safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students; the Village at Bermuda College is an excellent example. Companies, unions, and government departments should create staff LGBTQ+ networks to both foster community but to also drive change.
  • 9. The inclusion of Bermuda’s LGBTQ+ history into the Bermuda history curriculum. Bermuda has made quite significant steps toward LGBTQ+ equity [compared to other nations with predominately Black populations] and this should be recognized as an integral part of our cultural and political history.
  • 10. The amendment of the current blood donation policy around LGBTQ+ men to be in line with international best practice. In Bermuda, men who have sex with men [MSM] are barred from donating blood unless they do not engage in sexual contact with other men for period of three months. In this instance the policy itself is not the issue, the wording is. The reason this deferral period exists is to prevent the transmission of HIV through blood transfusion, however this policy correlates HIV solely with MSM and sex workers, which is a disproven stigma. Being a LGBTQ+ man or MSM man is not inherently a risk factor for HIV, multiple sexual partners and frequent unsafe anal sex are. The Bermuda Hospital Board’s policy does not currently make that vital distinction, only helping to further the stigma. However, the FDA has recently released new guidance regarding this, highlighting that anyone, regarding of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has multiple sexual partners and/or engages in anal sex should be deferred from donating for three months. The utilization of inclusive language both reduces stigma, while also ensuring clinical best practice is conveyed and followed more accurately.

I hope this list will provide those in the government who dare to read my work with action items they can begin looking into for the local community. This list should also provide a clear directive to local and international businesses for things they can lobby the government for on behalf of the community. The items on this list will have more impact than changing your logo, raising a rainbow flag, having a panel, or even funding pride parties. Lastly, I hope my fellow human rights activists, OUTBermuda, the Human Rights Commission, and all allies will heed my call for meaningful action in any one of these action areas.

- Taj Donville-Outerbridge is an award-winning Bermudian human rights 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 @

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