Categorized | National News

Bannister: PLP Gender Referendum The Height Of Hypocrisy

By K Quincy Parker

Opposition Senate Leader Desmond Bannister says the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Government’s decision to hold a gender referendum is the “height of hypocrisy” as it campaigned against the very same issue more than a decade ago.

Many Free National Movement (FNM) supporters and other observers say the central issues in the PLP’s proposed gender referendum are essentially the same as those in the infamous 2001 referendum, which the PLP is said to have supported in Parliament, but opposed in the public and political arenas, eventually rallying behind the slogan, “If you don’t know, vote no.”

In fact, several PLP MPs, including PLP House Leader Dr. BJ Nottage and Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin, have addressed the charge in the House of Assembly.

Seeking to defend the government against the charge, Mrs. Hanna Martin talked about the atmosphere in which the referendum was being conducted, and said that the result was “a resounding rejection” of then-prime minister Hubert Ingraham’s government.

It was thought by some that Ingraham was “ramming” the issue down the peoples’ throat. She said that what was at stake was a larger issue than equality for women.

The Bahamian people, she said, put brakes on the FNM by voting against the referendum.

Mr. Bannister, a former FNM party chairman, reiterated the FNM’s view.

“Quite frankly, if a government tells Bahamians, ‘notwithstanding the fact that we voted for this, you vote against it,’ and then 10 years later, comes back and tells the people ‘we’re now going to bring the very same issue to you and we want you to vote for it this time, because we brought it’ – that is the height of hypocrisy,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the victims in this have been Bahamian women. They have been short-changed for the last 10 years.”

Mr. Bannister said educating the populace was very important.

Questioned about whether the FNM was guilty of not sufficiently educating the people in 2001, he said, “Hindsight is 20/20. But when you unanimously pass legislation through Parliament – the Opposition supports it and the government supports it – then the government must have the confidence that the Opposition will support it and not seek to undermine it,” he said.

“But it ended up becoming a full-blown prelude to the election. When you do the right thing, even if at the end of the day you lose, you can go to sleep at night knowing that you did the right thing for your people.”

The referendum on gender issues is one of many being proposed by the Christie administration, including referenda on oil drilling and regulation of the numbers industry.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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