Also not impressed with discrimination

Today’s royal gazette covers a number of topics not getting aired.  One such topic revolves around the review of discrimination based upon sexual orientation. 

Regardless of whether you are for or against a chance in the human rights legislation, what is abundantly clear is that our leadership on both sides are incapable and incompetent when it comes to making a decision on this issue.

Mrs. Louise Jackson has it half right and half wrong

“We believe it is a matter for a conscience vote in Parliament.”

Parliament has demonstrated it’s ineffectiveness in this matter already.

“We believe it is a matter for each individual to decide how to vote on this matter.”

This however, has merit.  Don’t leave it up to the politicians, put it to the people in a plebiscite (which is a vote requested of the people by government and differs from a referendum which is a vote requested by the people via a petition) and let the people choose whether we support this change or not.

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13 thoughts on “Also not impressed with discrimination

  1. ” Don’t leave it up to the politicians, put it to the people in a plebiscite (which is a vote requested of the people by government and differs from a referendum which is a vote requested by the people via a petition) and let the people choose whether we support this change or not.”
    No. It’s the moral obligation of government and lawmakers to protect the human rights of people in a minority position. Putting something like this up to a popular opinion poll would be shirking that responsibility.

  2. The rights of the minority were were perfectly protected by our lawmakers during the fierce debate on the issue when it was brought before parliament, right?
    How can you propose that it is the moral obligation of government to protect the minority when it is the majority that votes them in to be their representatives?
    There is a severe flaw in our present system of democracy, one where politicians are more concerned with protecting their own hides than doing whats right.
    The human rights amendment was the perfect example of this when they sat their silently refusing to even debate the issue.

  3. Denis,
    What do you think of the UBP’s plan to give long term residents Bermudian status. Currently they are entitled to all rights of Bermudians, except voting. These are people largely not born here, but who have worked here for X amount of years.
    Do you think that this is largely a ploy on behalf of the UBP to beef up their support on the voting lists?

  4. Ken,
    I’m not entirely sure what to think. On one hand, they’re already long term residents and thus, do they need more? On the other, they may well have contributed greatly to our community and island and may deserve to be rewarded with status.
    As for it being a ploy on behalf of the UBP to boost their voting lists, I doubt it. They don’t stand to gain this election by doing it because it is likely they will turn off far more Bermudians this election than they will gain support due to this position.
    I’m actually not really sure why they even bothered to add it to their platform as they could have easily not mentioned it and then put it in place after getting elected. It certainly won’t gain them votes this election
    That leaves me to wonder that they may be trying to be honest and fair with both the people with regards to their intentions as well as the long term residents who may well deserve to be considered part of our community.
    Why do you think they’re proposing it?
    Denis

  5. re. direct democracy
    that’s fine, but per the article you linked, the danger is of the majority forcing its will on the masses, or on minorities.
    people are neither totally selfish nor totally altruistic, and you can hope that they will do ‘the right thing.’ But let’s say for example, including sexual orientation in the anti-discrimination list were to go to a popular vote and lose, as i suspect it might in Bermuda.
    then we’re basically ruling by mob mentality.

  6. Denis,
    I have no idea why they are proposing it. It makes no sense to me because it turns off the everyday black bermudian that they need to win the election, however it does seem to solidify their base.
    It doesnt seem like the smartest tactical move on their part.

  7. Ken,
    I think we’re in agreement there.
    Schnerg,
    I don’t follow your logic. Under our present system of democracy the majority elects a party of representatives who are to rule according to their interests. That still means the majority has control over the minority and thus the human rights change would still lose. The minority is left with really no say.
    At least in a direct democracy approach (my personal advocation is a mix of the two, but I’m still working on a coherent piece on how this works), the minority gets the chance to voice it’s opinion in the vote.
    Under our present system, the minority is silenced at the constituency level when at least if it was put to a vote amongst all people, you may see the real indication of support for the issue.
    As for “mob rule”, I highly recommend you check out the book on the right in my “recommendations” section entitled “The Wisdom of Crowds”. Or worst case, check out the wikipedia summary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_wisdom_of_crowds)
    It is a great description of what distinguises a wise crowd from a not so wise one.

  8. Schnerg,
    I have some problems with the current system. Using the Rene Webb bill for an example,
    We don’t know how the MPs voted, there isn’t an offical record of how each of them cast their vote. We vote to select someone else to be our proxy, and we can’t even find out how they vote, how do we know if they really do represent our views? I would love for CITV to broadcast the sessions so we can see how they really act and I would love for a website to provide how each of the MPs vote on every bill.
    Further, it is crazy that in this day and age we are still voting via hand ballot. Why not computerize the whole thing? While we vote for an MP also let us vote on bills like they kinda of do in California.

  9. If you want to see protection for the minority – and hear I mean the political minority, though it can translate to other minorities – look no further than the US system of republicanism. Direct democracy is superceded by the existance of an upper house with non-proportional representation, though it is still elected and accountable to the voters. The fact that each state gets two Senators no matter how many Representatives it has ensures that minorities are protected in a geographical sense. Large populous states like CA, TX and NY can’t overrule the wishes and input of small states like ND and WY without convincing them in order to garner their votes.
    Minorities are also protected in other important ways by the need to get supermajorites in the House of Reps and the Senate in order to pass important laws like Constitutional Change and to do things like end debate in either House.
    The existance of a truly independant Judicial Branch also serves as a very real check on the powers of the Legislative and Executive branches and keep them from straying from their designated paths.
    It’s a wonderful, though often maligned, political system that Bermuda should try and eliminate should it ever take the path to Independence.
    The Windsor System of government is a terrible one!

  10. Geoff, even if we adopted the republican system, it still wouldn’t work without strong, morally-driven leadership.
    Even with even ‘geographic’ representation, there still wouldn’t be enough support to pass the changes.
    Our Judicial Branch in Bermuda is more independent than that of the U.S. It also serves as a check for the government. The problem with the proposed HR legislation is that the existing HR legislation doesn’t violate any laws. So how would you rule it illegal or unconstitutional? In its present state, legally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t state that you can discriminate against homosexuals, it simply doesn’t explicitly state that you can’t.
    The only thing that will change it is support from the top. But the vast majority of Bermudians probably would not support such an amendment. So the politicians would have to go out on a limb and sacrifice some political capital by ‘doing the right thing’.

  11. Geoff,
    There are some merits to the structure of the American system which could be adopted, however I don’t think the entire structure is ideal.
    As Bermudian suggests, even with geographic represenation there still wouldn’t be enough support to pass changes. Largely geographic representation ensures protection from bad laws being imposed that hurt a geographic minority, but not so much a minority in terms of overall population. It also doesn’t help the creation of laws to protect that minority.
    Though, as I’ve said, there are some merits to it that could be adopted to make our system better, and I’m not certain we’d have to go independent to adopt them.

  12. Agreed, Denis.
    Our Constitution is a living document, and as such can be amended either by Parliament or the Crown. We don’t have to be independent to make changes to it, although it would be changed if we did become independent.
    We can learn from many countries on how to do things. We are fortunate enough to have the flexibility to review the world, and cherry-pick what would suit us best. Education would be a good place to start with that.
    As to the UBP motive, people are split as to the reason. Is it to increase their voting block? Unlikely, as it might be turning off those whose votes it needs to win already. More likely, it is to be more inline with existing residence leading to citizenship requirements already existing in the European Union, North America, and other locations. I believe the UN did a position paper on this a several years ago, primarily at refugee status, but it has since been amended to include the more mobile workforce of today.
    The UBP did say it would be reviewed on a case by case basis. It is not carte-blanche.
    Actually, I thought that the whole creation of the PRC concept by the PLP was one of their most brilliant pieces of legislation. After years of negligence, at least people who had contributed much to our island could finally get some recognition. Did it please everybody? Was it fair to everyone? No and no. But it was the most equitable solution all around.

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