Categorized | National News

MPs Will Unite On Bills

Despite the flip-flop by Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis and opposition from several government Members of Parliament during debate on constitutional amendments with regards to equality and gender, Co-Chair of the Public Education and Advocacy Group for the upcoming referendum Theresa Moxey-Ingraham remains confident that the bills will pass in the House of Assembly and be accepted by the Bahamian people.

“Interestingly enough [the conversation in the House of Assembly] reflects a divergence of thought in each political group because to our great surprise and to a little bit of our chagrin was the thought that members of the Opposition rose and stated that they had some differences and some difficulties with the bills before the house at the moment and then surprise from the governing side you got that same kind of rhetoric,” Mrs. Moxey-Ingraham said while appearing as guest on JCN’s Jones and Company with host Wendall Jones yesterday.

“Over this last week it did seem as if the whole approach to bi-partisanship was going to be derailed. I have been in several meetings since then, since the House met and I have a lot of hope that those difficulties are going to be ironed out because fundamentally no member said, ‘I disagree with everything being proposed.’ Whenever there were difficulties cited it was with wording or a principle here or there, are we sure we need to move in this direction, or maybe we need to get deeper consultation on this issue but no outright rejection so I have a lot of hope.”

She said since the House of Assembly met last Wednesday negotiations, re-negotiations definitions and new proposals are being considered.

“Everybody wants to be reasonable in this,” the former parliamentarian said.

“They want to move on and I think most of us are embarrassed that we’re still here and there is convergence on the idea that we need to go forward.”

While delivering his contribution last week to the controversial and ongoing debate on a package of four bills to amend the constitution, Dr. Minnis said there are too many loopholes in the process.

In fact, he added that ever since the bills were drawn up, there have already been numerous amendments, deletions and changes made, forcing him to question just how sound the November 6 referendum will be.

He further suggested that two of the four questions proposed be removed.

Mrs. Moxey-Ingraham said she could not go into details of the meetings that took place.

She also explained why there has to be four questions put to Bahamians in the upcoming referendum instead of just one simple question.

It was suggested to Mrs. Moxey-Ingraham that the question be “do you believe that Bahamian men and women should have the same rights under the law?”

“I’m with you Mr. Jones but neither of us are lawyers,” she said.

“We are professionals in other areas. The lawyers and interpreters of constitutions and law have convinced us that to do that there are certain provisions of the Constitution that have to be altered in and of themselves and that each of those alterations require its own piece of legislation. There has to be four questions according to the legal experts and that was one of the difficulties with the last referendum on this issue. The issue of equality was couched in one question or maybe two. They said if you were to give strength to those had they passed you would’ve needed a bill for each one of those provisions and I bow to the attorneys.”

On the issue of the word sex, Mrs. Moxey-Ingraham said the law is “straight forward.”

“The doctors tell us, the scientists tell us, the courts of law tell us that sex is defined as male or female,” she said.

“Sex is what you been identified as at birth. Sex is what your chromosomes dictate. The difficulty though comes with the new world with gender and that’s how you identify or how you are socialised but that’s a different story. We in the committee are trying to educate people not to be afraid of the word sex. In fact you are safer in legislation if you put sex as opposed to any other word because sex has a stated definition.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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