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Smith: Time to ban discrimination on grounds of sexual preference

  • George Smith.

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: May 14, 2013

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Former parliamentarian George Smith said it is time to amend the constitution to ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference or orientation.

Smith also recommended instituting a provision in the constitution that would allow a member of Parliament to be recalled.

The comments were among 13 suggestions he made for constitutional reform.

Smith also called for the country’s head of state to be a Bahamian.

Additionally, he recommended that the country become a republic; the Senate be abolished and an independent boundaries and electoral commission be established.

He also recommended that the constitution set out the maximum number of government ministers due to “the financial abuse that the nation has endured in recent times with the large size of Cabinets”.

Smith also joined the chorus of Bahamians who have called for the country to remove the London-based Privy Council as the highest court of appeal and replace it with a Bahamian court.

In February, human rights activist Erin Greene said the church should not prevent the government from carrying out its obligation to its citizens and upholding their right to same-sex marriage.

Greene said the state’s obligation to its citizens is different from the church’s obligation to its parishioners.

“The state has an obligation to me, to ensure that as a citizen, I have equitable access to the benefits that it offers,” she said before the Constitutional Commission.

“If the state is offering special benefits to married people, then it should not prevent me from getting married because I have a right to share in that benefit if I want to.”

Earlier this year, Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd recommended that the constitution reflect that no one should be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.

He is opposed to same-sex marriage, however.

In January, Grace Community Church pastor Rev. Dr. Rex Major appeared before the commission and recommended that the constitution define marriage as being between a man and woman.

The government has delayed the proposed constitutional referendum from June until late November as requested by the Constitutional Commission.

The delay is meant to give the public as much time as possible to digest any recommended changes to the constitution that the commission may make. The prime minister said the specific date of the vote will be revealed later.

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