A gay rights rally earlier this year outside the House of Assembly. *File photo
A gay rights rally earlier this year outside the House of Assembly. *File photo

MPs approve a Human Rights Amendment making it illegal to discriminate against a person on sexual orientation and age.
The Senate will vote on the measure next week.

Vote on the removal of Clause 6:

Atherden – Y, Bascome – N, Bean – N, Blakeney, N, Brown N, Burgess N, Burt N, Commissiong N, Crockwell Y, De Silva N, Dunkley Y, Furbert N, Gibbons Y, Gordon-Pamplin Y, Jackson Y, D. Lister N, T. Lister N, Moniz Y, Pettingill Y, S. Richards Y, Raban N, Leah Scott Y, Micheal Scott N, Wayne Scott Y Wayne Scott N, Simons Y, Smith Y, Sousa Y, Weeks N, Wilson N,
Y: 14
N: 15
No’s have it. Sorry, I have an extra no
Minister – clause 6 be taken as printed
Move Clauses 7 thorough to 14 be approved as printed. Approved

Leader of the Opposition (Mark Bean) – serious reservations about removing clause 6, reaction in regards to harassment (subsection 3 eliminated), by removing the clause removing harassment by age, pregnancy, un-wed mother, only want subsection 3 eliminated
W. Lawrence A Scott – 60% consitutency 24 – non-relevant
Walter H. Raban – re-iterate feelings on clause 6, concerns from ‘for justice’ valid points, almost redundant, pollutes the issue of harassment (subsection 3), support of not changing clause 6 (but only subsection 3),
W. Lawrence A Scott – harassment based on age, taking all of clause 6 ill-advised, harassment a form of discrimination, only omit the piece of the legislation
R. Wade Scott – sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace etc is already there, Human rights Act provides for harassment issues, 6B
Kim Wilson – 1981 Act only covers harass. in the workplace, and or employer, challenge to removing clause 6, as a gay citizen, out in a restaurant can be annoyed/harassed, now I can have my wife (services), but now being harassed, commend the minister however, concerned removal of clause 6, we have no laws that say you can’t harass someone in the Act, family status, race, gender, place of origin – we have no protection for them if they are treated in a manner that is offensive, annoying – can’t enjoy their services (can go to a restaurant, but now can be harassed there)
Mark Pettingill – taking nothing out of the act, work cleaning up the mess of previous government, crafted from the UK harassment act, not within the Human Rights Act, looking at it in a larger sense, right now every time someone came through customs will have complaints to the Human Rights Act – complaints in the wrong place the wrong tribunal, sub sec 3 had to come out, maybe we need to an Harassment Act – get it as right as you can, not in the right place, could be in a different place, at this stage the reason to remove the entire clause  - that is how we arrived at this position – it wasn’t in there before – we’re not taking it away, we’re building on it.
W. Lawrence A Scott – slammed MP as lawyer, why take care of it later, why don’t we take care of them now, when is this harassment act going to come, Human Rights wouldn’t mind be flooded with need rather than leave people unprotected, want to make sure this isn’t another bait and switch,
Mr. E David Burt – government is saying ‘it’s okay to harass someone as long as you’re not in the workplace’, urging government to change their position
R. Wade Scott – is racial profiling allowed?
point of information – threatening, harassment is not listed as an offence,
Walter H Raban – still puzzled, why we can’t just take out subsection 3, hopes AG or minister can make it clear for us.
C. Walton D. Brown – AG sole objection with Human rights being inundated with complaints, can’t the Human rights decide which cases they’ll look at or not, in which case perhaps better to leave clause 6 in.
Walter H. Raban – if the Human Rights does get inundated doesn’t that just make it more likely that a Harassment Act would be needed, must have a provision for harassment why not keep in?
Kim Wilson – 1981, 15A, if 6c remains – doesn’t nec. hold water, it must be persistent, is customs clearance really an issue, also concerned, why not give them coverage

Roll call vote on Wayne Furbert’s amendment to add a section 6 to say it doesn’t change anything from the Matrimonial Causes Act.

Yes (12): Bean, Burgess, Burt, Commissiong, De Silva, Foggo, Furbert, D. Lister, T. Lister, Lawrence Scott, Weeks, Wilson

No (18): Atherden, Bascome, Brown, Crockwell, Dunkley, Gibbons, Gordon-Pamplin, Jackson, Moniz, Pettingill, S. Richards, Roban, Leah Scott M. Scott W. Scott, Simons, Smith, Sousa

Absent (4): Blakeney, Cannonier, Davis, Bob Richards

Suzann Roberts-Holshouser was in the chair.

8:07 Marc Bean Wants honesty in the dialogue.

8:05 Zane De Silva supports Mr Furbert’s proposal

7:54: Kim Wilson If a case went before the court it will be a matter of what has precedence, the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1974 or the Amendment to Human Rights Act 2013?

7:51: Walton Brown There is a level of hypocrisy in giving rights then capping what rights they can have.

7:50: Derrick Burgess supports Wayne Furbert’s amendment.

7:48: David Burt is in in favour of Wayne Furbert’s amendment – this is a concern on the people’s minds.

7:42: Mark Pettingill We don’t want to cloud the waters with this.

7:34pm Wayne Furbert moved to amend and add a section 6 to say it doesn’t change anything from the Matrimonial Causes Act.


Bermuda’s MPs are set to approve a Human Rights Amendment making it illegal to discriminate against a person on sexual orientation and age.

Debate began early this morning in the House of Assembly with the majority of speakers saying they will vote for the amendment.

Both the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) and the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) allowed their members to vote their conscious on the vote.

It was clear early on that there had been a shift in the political sands since the last time the vote was brought up in the House of Assembly in 2006.


Some comments

Walter Roban (PLP)

“It’s been a good day of the principles of freedom and democracy.”

“I am supporting this bill. I have never had any difficulty in the amendment coming.”

Coleman Simons (OBA)

“This is the moment Bermuda was destined to change the Human Rights Act.”

Last time around Mr Simmons voted against the change.

“It’s a journey for me. I was not here, but life has led me here.

“I can say unequivocally I support this legislation.

“As for the churches… The Lord that I serve accepts people as they are.”

Zane De Silva (PLP)

“Discrimination, I have felt it personally and my family has felt it. I am fully against any discrimination.”

“I have my friends that are gay and many employees that are gay.”
“We have a responsibility to everyone in the country and not just our constituents.”


Mark Pettingill (OBA)

“This legislation is years overdue.

“(But) There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

“People are born gay. They don’t wake up one day and turn gay.”

“It’s the principle of this amendment that is significant.”

“The Bible… is a 2,000-year-old teaching…. We’ve moved on. It doesn’t mean we can’t bring wonderful teaching with us.”

If you’re that homophobic please leave and go somewhere else… and I’d be happy about that too.



Dennis Lister (PLP)

“Everyone who walked in here today, knew were they where.

In the previous debate “Some members took the opportunity to beat up on the church… I thought that was wrong and still think that was wrong.”

“I stand against this matter on this occasion. There has been no movement in my principle.”



Bob Richards (OBA)

“This act deals with inalienable rights for human beings.”

“I support this legislation.”


Derrick Burgess (PLP)

“I am against all forms against all forms of discrimination and always have been.”

“The problem I have with this bill is that we have no recorded cases … of someone being discriminated because they are gay.”

“We have to be very careful of the ramifications.”

“I think they are wrong to use, to quote the Bible like you’re some scholar of the Bible is just disrespectful. They’re just trying to justify something.”

“Those workers (those over 65) are some of our best workers.”

“Why do we discriminate against workers who are 65? If Government does it, the private sector will do it.”


Sylvan Richards (OBA)

“I support the Amendment to the Human Rights Act.”

My position on this has evolved over the years.

“It’s kind of absurd to me that we’re even having this discussion.”

“The God I serve says we are to love one another.”


David Burt (PLP)

“This legislation was rushed.”

“This legislation is not perfect.”

Wrong to make this just about gay rights. “It’s a straight rights bill.”

“People are entitled to have a different opinion than you.”

Attacks on people calling them ‘Neanderthals’ and the Bible ‘fiction’ is wrong.

Age discrimination is wrong.

My constituents would say “Gay marriage is bridge too far.”

“I will vote in favour of this amendment. I have no issues defending it.”


Susan Jackson (OBA)

“This amendment has my wholehearted support.”


Grant Gibbons (OBA)

“I’m very pleased to support this amendment to the Human Rights Act today.”

“This is a historic day.”

“It’s a basic human rights issue.”

“It’s not perfect legislation, but it’s a step in the right direction.”


Marc Bean (PLP)

“It should be clear to everyone that this amendment will pass.”

“My focus is not on our (PLP) origin, but on our destination.”

“It is my position is that sexual orientation is not a basic human right.”

“It’s orientation to something that already exists. One’s orientation can change.”

Discrimination can be negative or positive.

“It all depends on its application.”

“The comparison between sexual orientation and racism… holds no weight.”

“There are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with this act and this amendment.”

“My conscious is clear.”

“The attacks that are coming … (this) is okay, I have my iron shirt on.”


Michael Dunkley (OBA)

“I’m very proud to cast a vote in favour of this today.”

He quoted Nelson Mandela “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

Wayne Scott (OBA)

“I hear some of the concerns.”

“Human rights are not optional.”