The following was written by Bahamian Olympic swimmer, Elvis Vereance Burrows on social media, the day after The Bahamas held its equality referendum:
The Bahamian people have voted NO to the
gender equality bill. America just nominated their first female
presidential nominee while 20 minutes from Miami, we voted NO to gender
equality. Let’s face it, the vote YES campaign underestimated the power
of social media, they underestimated the distrust the people have in
Prime Minister Perry Christie and the current PLP government, they
underestimated the amount of fear mongering that would come from the
extreme religious and homophobic ideologues.
The vote YES
campaign tried to take the high road and educate the public on the bills
to raise awareness so Bahamians can make an informed decision. On the
other hand, the vote NO campaign simply preyed on the fears of the
ignorant and the super religious; the quintessential Donald Trump
When the bill CLEARLY states “This bill seeks to
eliminate gender discrimination by inserting the word “sex” into article
26 of the constitution to make it unconstitutional to discriminate
against anyone on the basis of them being male or female”, and the vote
NO campaign was able to scare the public into thinking this meant GAY
RIGHTS, that’s when I realized the bill was dead. It was even labeled
“the sissy bill”.
We better pray this story doesn’t make it to
Buzzfeed, Huffington post or any other of those viral garbage blog
sites. Because the guaranteed ensuing social justice boycott of the
Bahamas could put the final nail in this coffin of an economy. For those
of you who gonna say “well we can’t base our morality on what America
does”, I agree, but here’s my counter. Remember when they banned gay
cruises from coming into the Bahamas anymore back in the late 90’s early
2000’s? They said we can’t exchange our morals for the sake of the
economy. I believe that lasted two weeks until they quietly let the gay
cruises dock up (no pun intended) in the Bahamas once again. Tourism
statistics show the gay community travels more to beach destinations,
but also spend way more money than the average tourist. You think the
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism doesn’t know this?
The saddest part
of this whole ordeal was the ignorance and irrationality used for most
of the reasons people voted NO. Here are some examples I’ve heard. Feel
free to add your own.
1. If I vote yes to the equality bill, my children will be born gay. (If I shake my head any harder, I’d break my neck)
2. If you vote yes to the equality bill, that means you gay. (oh ok, makes sense)
3. This is so rich Bahamians can send their children off to marry
foreigners for prestige, bring them home, and give them citizenship
because they’re dying to move here. (first off, yes Bahamas is great.
Foreigners love to come here for our cheap rum, beautiful beaches, laid
back lifestyle and great food, but guess what. YOU CAN DO THAT WITHOUT
CITEZENSHIP! Also, men can already pass citizenship; it’s just the women
who can’t. So this argument is already flawed. Gender equality has
nothing to do with wealth)
4. I voted NO because, Why? Because no. (seriously)
5. I'm really not trying to be equal, this ain’t America, and most
women are woke (a female said this, maybe we should take back women’s
right to vote since she doesn’t seem to want it)
6. Women weren’t meant to be equal to men (said by a male)
7. Some females love the position they have and don’t wish to be equal.
Some of us love the way God made us and the role he gave to us (said by
You can NOT argue/reason/debate/rationalize with this
mentality. The YES campaign tried to take an intellectual approach to an
anti intellectualism movement. That is why the YES campaign failed.
This type of mentality and stagnant social progression is what scares a
lot of young Bahamians from living home or coming home after studying
abroad. We have seen a huge brain drain in our country where the
brightest and best talent leaves because they feel there is nothing left
for them in The Bahamas. They feel the Bahamas is “stuck in time”.
“Then why don’t they come back and make the changes they wish to see?”
OK great idea! Let’s start slow, something easy and obviously everyone
will agree on, Oh I know, EQUAL RIGHTS. America passed theirs back in
1923. SURELY we can in 2016.” WRONG, because that’s a sissy bill and if
you vote for it you’re gay. Wait, WHAT?! If our education is so stagnant
that we believe giving men and women the same rights will lead to a gay
apocalypse we have failed in areas I didn’t even know existed.
Progress will have to come one funeral at a time.
Lastly, crime is high, unemployment is high, hotels are shutting down,
tourism is coming to a standstill, and the Chinese are trying to steal
the country from us with some shady political moves. This was not a time
to distract and divide the country with this vote. A lot of people
voted no out of anger and to spite the administration for their
ineffectiveness on these other issues. So when people say they voted NO
because they believed this was a distraction for some hidden agenda, I
see some merit in their claims. Moral of the story -
Never underestimate the power of social media and never underestimate the power of fear.
They put the vote to the people, and the people said NO, as is their right.
@ElvisVB (Instagram / Twitter)
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her
private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of