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Chief justice applauds govt move to create gender parity

Chief Justice Ian Winder yesterday applauded the government’s decision to move forward with bringing gender equality to The Bahamas’ citizenship laws.

“The legislature, the government is responsible for laying laws to create parity in the gender issue,” Winder said when asked about the decision.

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone publicly at least to say that our laws do not need reform to bring gender parity with respect of the constitution…

“So, I applaud the government — the executive and the legislative — in any effort that they may do to bring this into effect but that’s their mandate, that’s their remit.”

Currently, a Bahamian woman married to a foreign spouse cannot automatically pass on citizenship to children born abroad.

Bahamian men who have children with foreign women out of wedlock cannot automatically pass on citizenship to their children, even if they are born in The Bahamas.

Last year, the Court of Appeal upheld the 2020 ruling by Winder, who was a Supreme Court justice at the time, that every person born in The Bahamas shall become a citizen of The Bahamas at their date of birth if either parent, irrespective of their marital status, is a citizen of The Bahamas.

The matter is now before the Privy Council, so the status quo remains.

Despite this, the Davis administration has announced its intention to bring gender equality to the laws through ordinary legislation.

Yesterday, when asked if he supported the move or whether the Privy Council should be allowed to make its determination, Winder replied, “As I understand, the matter is before the Privy Council, so that will continue but, the choice of route, that’s entirely within the remit of the government.”

He said courts should not comment on how they prosecute or do not prosecute cases.

In a 2016 referendum, voters rejected proposed changes to the constitution that sought to address the ability of Bahamians to pass on their citizenship to children and spouses.

A similar exercise in 2002 was also rejected.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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