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Gender Equality Bills Stalled

Those four constitutional amendment bills still sit in the House of Assembly in the committee stage, as the marathon process has hit another snag and Leader of Government Business Dr. Bernard Nottage expressed that he is very concerned with the delay.

He stressed that bi-partisan support is needed for the bills to be passed.

“It may possibly be four members of the opposition who are no longer prepared to support bill number four in its present form, we find ourselves in a position where even if the bills were to pass in this honorable house with the requisite ¾ majority as it almost certainly will work, the public perception nonetheless with will created that the opposition is seriously divided on the issue with close to half of its house members would vote against it,” he said.

“What we are saying, for a matter of this importance, fundamentally dealing with the equality of men and women in our Bahamas that we believe that it requires bi-partisan support to pass, and the prime minster said from day one that only if we have bi-partisan support would we proceed because we want the matter to not be determined politically, we are going to strive to get bi-partisan support, we will strive to get it.”

The government had intended to proceed with the third reading of the bills on Wednesday.

There has been much discord over bill number four that seeks the eliminate discrimination based on sex.

Dr. Nottage said that the views of opposing members to include the words “at birth” along with the definition of the word ‘sex’ to clarify male and female was considered.

However Dr. Nottage explained that including those words would only weaken the prohibition to same sex marriages in The Bahamas.

“The commission has advised that it is firmly of the view that the addition of the word “at birth” is far from strengthening the prohibition of same sex marriages under the Matrimonial Clauses Act would actually weaken the prohibition and leave it open to constitutional challenges of a kind that is presently precluded under the savings provision of the constitution,” he said.

Opposition Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner expressed disappointment with there being another delay in the process and reiterated her position in supporting the bills.

“We as leaders in this country must always stand to lead even when we have dissenting voices, we must take this opportunity as individuals to do what is right to moving this country forward after 41 years of independence,” she said

“It is sad that once again we reach this hiccup in the road but I will remain steadfast,” she said.
Meanwhile, Marco City MP Greg Moss explained why he does not support bill number four.

The commission is expected to meet with those four members of the FNM and two members of the government who continue to have concerns with the bills.

In the meantime, Dr. Nottage assured that the public education campaign will continue.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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