LGBT rights in Bermuda

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
LGBT rights in Bermuda
Bermuda
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1994,
age of consent not equalized
Gender identity/expression No recognition of gender identity (see below)
Military service Allowed (see below)
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption -

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Bermuda face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT persons. Homosexuality is legal in Bermuda, but the country has long held a reputation for being anti-gay,.[1][2] It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in Bermuda, but not on the basis of gender identity.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Prior to 1994, gay male sexual conduct were punishable by up to ten years imprisonment. Following the passing of the Stubbs Bill in that year, gay male sexual conduct was legalised in Bermuda, but with a higher age of consent for gay male sexual conduct at 18, than the age of consent of 16 for heterosexual and lesbian sexual conduct.

Gender identity/expression[edit]

There is no legal recognition of "gender identity", and thus, by omission, no protection from discrimination.[3] The ability of persons to express their gender identity is often difficult; for example, in 2006, the government attempted to ban Mark Anderson, also known as the drag queen "Queen of Bermuda" Sybil, from participating in a parade, stating that he contradicted local mores and sensitivities.[4] In mid-2009 it was announced that gay Bermudians would be participating in Pride London, with an estimated 30 LGBT London residents from Bermuda marching,[5] and that it hoped to follow in Anderson's footsteps and participate in a future Bermuda Day parade; gay Bermudians doubted, however, that there would be large-scale participation due to fears of repercussions against their families.[6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

There is no official recognition of same-sex couples. In 2004, the government made it clear that same-sex civil unions, much less same-sex marriage, would not be considered.[7]

Socially, the situation is hard enough that some gay residents have chosen to emigrate, particularly to London in Great Britain (of which Bermudians are citizens), in order to be able to openly be in same-sex relationships. One such emigrant noted that gay relationships have to essentially be secret, with partners introduced only as "friends" and relationships between two Bermudians as being very difficult.[8]

An opinion poll in July 2010 showed only 27% in favour of same-sex marriage and 51% against.[9]

On June 18, 2013, newly elected Premier and leader of the OBA Craig Cannonier ruled out same-sex marriage in Bermuda, stating, "I can assure you that under my leadership this is not about same sex marriage, and under my leadership that will not happen." [10][11]

Military service[edit]

The Bermuda Regiment does not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, as it is formed by random lottery-style conscription. Officially, members of the Regiment are prohibited from discriminating against or harassing gay soldiers;[12] such activities, however, are tolerated by officers, to the extent that one conscript described the Regiment as "the most homophobic environment that exists".[13]

Discrimination protections[edit]

In 2013, the Parliament of Bermuda approved legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[14][15] Prior to this legislation, Bermuda's Human Rights Commission had repeatedly recommended that the government change discrimination laws.[16] In late 2004, the Government of Bermuda promised to amend the Human Rights Act to cover sexual orientation,[17][18]—but by late 2005 the matter appeared to have been quietly dropped,[19] until the following year. In 2006, an amendment to the Human Rights Act was proposed in the House of Assembly of Bermuda, but the Parliament of Bermuda refused to even discuss the issue.[20] In April 2007 an activist group called "Two Words and a Comma" was formed to pressure the government of Bermuda into amending the act.[16] Following his sudden resignation from Cabinet in 2009, former Culture Minister Dale Butler raised the issue of the amendment, saying that he had intended to table an amended Human Rights Bill in Fall 2009, but that it was now the responsibility of new Culture Minister Neletha Butterfield to re-table to do so; Butterfield responded that she was still being apprised of the workings of the Ministry and so could not comment on future plans.[5] In November of that year, following a mention in the annual speech from the throne that the Human Rights Act was to be amended, a rumour circulated that this would include protection for gays.[21] Premier Brown's press secretary appeared to confirm the rumour, but it was refuted by both the Human Rights Commission and Minister Butterfield, who commented that a sexual orientation clause was still under investigation.[22]

Bermudians have tried to appeal to the British Parliament regarding LGBT discrimination,[3] prompting the Foreign Affairs Committee to recommend that the British government should take steps to extend human rights in the British overseas territories (BOT), for which Britain is ultimately responsible.[23] Bermuda's human rights in general do not have a favourable reputation; In mid-2008, Bermuda was the only BOT to refuse to join a four-year human rights initiative organised by the Commonwealth Foundation.[24]

Tourism[edit]

Tourism is a significant aspect of Bermuda's economy. In 2007, LGBT R Family Vacations, with the support of Premier and Minister of Tourism and Transportation Dr. Ewart Brown,[25] considered making Bermuda one of its destinations, seemingly oblivious to the previous year's events. A close ally of Brown, Andre Curtis, who ran a controversial "Faith-Based Tourism" initiative for the Premier, opposed the visit,[26] organising some eighty churches into an interfaith group called "United by Faith" to protest the planned trip[27] alongside the country's African Methodist Episcopal churches.[28] R Family decided to change the itinerary to replace Bermuda with two stops in Florida and a private island. Kaminsky stated

"If we didn't have kids on board and there were protesters, we would go, but we did not want to expose kids to that hatred while they were on vacation."[29]

Ironically, Bermuda has actually been the host of gay tourism for many years. The LGBT travel company Pied Piper, for example, has been organising trips — albeit on a smaller and much quieter scale — to the country since 1990, without incident.[2]

Living conditions[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (since 1994)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (since 2013)
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gay Bermuda - GayTimes
  2. ^ a b "Gay cruisers will still come to BDA". Bermuda Sun. April 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Smith, Brenda Lana (January 29, 2008). "Human Rights in the Overseas Territories". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  4. ^ Neill, Scott (May 25, 2006). ""Queen of Bermuda" reigns on parade". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b O'Connor, Clare (3 July 2009). "New Culture Minister now responsible for sexual orientation amendment to Act". 
  6. ^ Huish, Sirkka (3 July 2009). "Bermuda's gays plan Pride parade on island". 
  7. ^ Titterton, Sarah (February 28, 2004). "Island will not consider legalising gay unions, says Minors". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  8. ^ Huish, Sirkka (July 3, 2009). "I could never be open about my sexuality at home and had to move to London". 
  9. ^ "Gay cruise support twice as high as gay marriage support, survey shows". The Royal Gazette. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  10. ^ Hainey, Raymond (June 18, 2013). "Cannonier: Gay marriage "will not happen"". 
  11. ^ "Premier Cannonier: No Same Sex Marriage". Bernews. 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  12. ^ Bermuda Regiment Standards of Conduct
  13. ^ Strangeways, Sam (May 26, 2006). Bill's supporters stunned by defeat. The Royal Gazette. Retrieved May 8, 2009. 
  14. ^ Johnson, Ayo (June 15, 2013). "MPs approve historic Human Rights Act changes". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Bermuda Senate approves bill prohibiting discrimination against gays". LGBTQ Nation. July 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Northcott, David (22 March 2008). "Submission from David Northcott, on behalf of Two Words and a Comma, Bermuda". House of Commons of the United Kingdom. 
  17. ^ Johnson, Ayo (November 1, 2004). "Gays to get human rights protection". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  18. ^ Johnson, Ayo (November 2, 2004). "Gay rights move applauded". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  19. ^ Wells, Phillip (October 6, 2005). "Equal rights for gays". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Hundreds demonstrate against MPs' gay rights 'silence'". Bermuda Sun. June 2, 2006. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  21. ^ http://www.royalgazette.com/rg/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d9b4af30030010&sectionId=60
  22. ^ http://www.royalgazette.com/rg/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d9b52f30030001&sectionId=60
  23. ^ House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (June 18, 2008). "Seventh Report of Sessions 2007-2008: Overseas Territories". pp. 8, 81–91. 
  24. ^ Jacobs, Trent (August 19, 2008). "Caymanian to lead the Caribbean rights effort". Cayman Net News. Retrieved May 3, 2009. [dead link]
  25. ^ Bourke, Amy (3 April 2007). "Rosie's gay cruise is backed by Bermuda's leader". Pinknews. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  26. ^ Smith, Tim (April 24, 2008). "UK Christian group critical of faith-based tourism". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  27. ^ Dale, Amanda (March 30, 2008). "Rethink opposition to gay cruise, churches urged". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  28. ^ Jones, Glenn (March 24, 2007). "AMEs launch the first salvo against the Rosie cruise". Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  29. ^ Guaracino, Jeff (July 2007). Fun For Grown-Ups Aboard Rosie's r Family Cruises. Instinct (magazine). p. 48. 

External links[edit]