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Bahamas Olympic swimmer on the Gender Equality vote
By Elvis Vereance Burrows
Jun 10, 2016 - 1:55:44 AM

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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 method.

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 a female)

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.

They put the vote to the people, and the people said NO, as is their right.

Moral of the story - Never underestimate the power of social media and never underestimate the power of fear.

Elvis Burrows
@ElvisVB (Instagram / Twitter)

Disclaimer: 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 TheBahamasWeekly.com

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