AG defends LGBT protections
Attorney General Carl Bethel yesterday affirmed that The Bahamas has a history of tolerance and minor legal protection for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
The legal protection Bethel referred to was the decriminalization of buggery in 1991.
The attorney general led a delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bethel noted that The Bahamas has received a number of recommendations from UNHRC member countries concerning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
He said The Bahamas is a country that has respect for Christian values and that the family is the foundation of a “strong nation”.
He also added that marriage in The Bahamas, by law, is a union between a man and a woman.
“Mr. President, although sexual orientation and gender identity is not included as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the constitution, and there is no legislation which prohibits discrimination in specific areas, such as employment, the government continues to assert that there have not been any instances recorded of any legal discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said.
“Neither has there been any formal reports lodged of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Bahamas Labour Board, the Bahamas Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.
“There are no cases before the judiciary. Mr. President, leading up to the constitutional referendum in 2016, the transgender community held a press conference without interference, expressing their views on the proposed amendments to the constitution. The LGBTQI community within The Bahamas has a platform and members represent their groups on a number of national and regional organizations.
“It should be noted that The Bahamas is generally supportive of efforts to combat all forms of discrimination against persons and to promote tolerance. During the 71st session of 2016 of the Human Rights Council, The Bahamas supported the resolution that adopts the annual report on the human rights council, which included through human rights council resolution 32/2 the mandate for an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Mr. President, I can inform you authoritatively that persons in The Bahamas who are in the process of gender reassignment are currently provided with psychological assistance from the Ministry of Health. Consideration might be given to other forms of assistance, however, as this issue remains highly controversial in popular discourse, a cautious and modulated approach has been adopted.
“Mr. President, persons who are in same-sex relationships are able to avail themselves of the regular protection and remedies available under the law in respect of violence or assaults and the right to assert property rights. It should be noted that consensual relations in private between adults of the same sex has been lawful in The Bahamas since 1991.”