Rights Bahamas yesterday warned the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) that any instances of hate speech or attempts to bully the LGBTQI community into forgoing its rights, will be met with “the most strenuous and forceful opposition both locally, internationally and through the courts if necessary”.
While the local activist group labelled the BCC’s views as bigoted and intolerant, it defended the council’s right to take to the streets and reject Pride Bahamas 2020 activities.
On Monday, BCC President Bishop Delton Fernander said that the organization will not support any such event and will host an opposing rally to make its stance known.
He said the counter rally will be similar to one held in Jamaica some years back, and that in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, now is not the time to “play games with our faith”.
“ … The pastors have a constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, just like everyone else. Rights Bahamas celebrates all instances when individuals and groups take advantage of their rights,” the group said.
“Sadly, and quite ironically, the very point and purpose of the Christian Council’s demonstration appears to be a demand that the very same rights they seek to make use of are denied to others.
“In addition, the rather aggressive and extreme rhetoric that has accompanied this announcement, talk of fighting ‘the forces of evil’ and the destruction of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’, are, in our view, a cause for grave concern and could even lead to violence.”
Rights Bahamas said that it wishes to respectfully remind the BCC that while they seek to withhold others from their rights enshrined in the constitution, it has “no standing in the eyes of the law whatsoever”, and no official say in what happens in the country.
Fernander further noted the constitution’s preamble which establishes that the foundation and moral compass of the country is built on “Christian values”.
In response to this, Rights Bahamas said that while the reference he alludes to speaks only generally to an “abiding respect for Christian values”, it does not mandate or prohibit any specific actions or behavior, nor does it even give a definition of this “rather amorphous phrase”.
It added that different denominations promote different values, and several Christian churches now appoint LGBTQI pastors and conduct same-sex marriages.
The group also said the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are “concretely and explicitly” defined in the constitution, and if the BCC remains unsure of the distinction, they are welcome to test it in court.
Rights Bahamas also urged the BCC to carefully consider the message it is sending, not only to the local public, but also to the international organizations that are currently in The Bahamas providing millions of dollars in Hurricane Dorian Relief aid.
The proliferation of intolerance, discrimination and selective Christian doctrine, it said, can only serve to embarrass the country on the world stage.