FRIDAY, JANUARY 4: A gay rights group has called on the new Government to work with the Opposition to amend the law to give equal protection against discrimination to gay people.

A spokeswoman for the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda said: “Both parties expressed willingness to amend the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation during their pre-election campaigning.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ) are disadvantaged under the current status quo and this must be addressed. We now implore the current government to follow through with these promises and create legislative change.”

The Rainbow Alliance wants current human rights legislation amended to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The spokeswoman also accused new Opposition leader Marc Bean of making “derogatory remarks” during a debate on the issue in the House of Assembly last year.

Mr Bean was reported in the Royal Gazette as saying that “tolerance does not equate of acceptance of behaviour” and that he did not believe a home-owner should have to rent to a gay person if he/she  disapproves of their lifestyle.

The spokeswoman said: “These words contain the insensitivity and latent homophobia that the Rainbow Alliance was created to combat on this island.

“To have them come from the leader of the Opposition party threatens to legitimize his views in the eyes of the public and undo any progress Bermuda has made towards joining the rest of the modern world’s tolerance and respect for the LGTBQ community.”

The spokeswoman called on Mr Bean, other politicians and members of the public to “reach out” to groups like the Rainbow Alliance to get an idea of “the very real social injustices” faced by minority groups.

She added: “The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like Marc Bean and the Opposition PLP to clarify their position on the amendment of the Human Rights Act or the bringing forth of new legislation to protect all the people of Bermuda, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“As Opposition party leader, Mr Bean’s personal opinions may hold great sway over the PLP’s position on this and other LGBTQ issues going forward. He holds the responsibility for helping move Bermuda forward and we hope that he will help stem the unacceptable negative public opinion of the LGBTQ community.”

Neither the OBA or the PLP had responded to requests for comment by press time.