WEDNESDAY, JULY 18: Sometimes, what isn’t said is the most important indicator of how things are really going.
It’s true in business and it’s true in love.
Six years ago, Rene Webb was met with stony silence when she attempted to introduce a bill to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. No one wanted to debate the proposed bill and the discomfort level was so great that one Member of Parliament remained in the bathroom.
I don’t know who you love or why but it would seem to me that a debate on equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender Bermudians under the guise of a new ‘Equality Act’ is meaningless if most MPs are struck by a severe case of the “no speak’ums.” Oh, there’ll be lots of hemming and hawing but if no one is willing to really acknowledge that any kind of discrimination is wrong, including the kind that might cause you the greatest discomfort, then what’s the point?
The gay, lesbian and transgender men and women on this island already know what you think. It’s been six years!
Your inaction, your lack of outrage on their behalf and your reluctance to add “two words and a comma” to the Human Rights Act speaks volumes even when you say nothing. Participating in a non-binding debate is a little like dancing with yourself, if you catch my drift.
Who among you in Parliament will find the courage to stop walking down the middle of the road and do the right thing and insist on an amendment to the Human Rights Act so that all Bermudians, including your gay, lesbian and transgender family members will be protected?
This is not the time to bury your head in the pink sand and insist, like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that homosexuality doesn’t exist in your home town or that they shouldn’t have the same rights under the law that you enjoy.
The civilized world would still be laughing at Ahmadinejad if the safety of his own citizens weren’t at risk.
Members of Parliament have been shuffling their bi-partisan feet on this issue for too long. Their collective fear of voters’ retribution is so acute that they have allowed this fear to paralyze them from doing the right thing. Surely Bermuda is more evolved than Iran and that right thinking people would want their fellow citizens to be protected under the law?
The issue isn’t whether you believe that homosexuality is morally wrong or a sin against God, the issue is whether you believe that everyone should have the same civil rights and protections against discrimination. Should your own religious and personal beliefs trump the civil rights of others? I don’t think it should.
Being able to make a clear distinction between your set of beliefs, however dear you may hold those beliefs, and the legal rights of your fellow citizens is the mark of a true democracy. You don’t need to personally embrace the choices of others and forsake your own religious beliefs in order to embrace the legal protection of the gay community.
It’s time for Members of Parliament to don their best pink linen Bermuda shorts, slap on a little Bay Rum, straighten their tie and stop discrimination against the gay community.
While they’re at it, perhaps they can put in a good word to all those publishers of Bermuda guide books and stop this ridiculous insistence of explaining that Bermudian men are still very manly, despite wearing pink shorts.
Real men can wear any colour they like; real men and a few good women don’t discriminate.