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Columns : The New Bahamian - Joseph Gaskins Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Bahamas Backs Gay Rights, Does this Spell the End For Us?
By Joseph Gaskins
Jun 24, 2011 - 8:33:53 AM

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This past week The Nassau Guardian published statements by Deputy Prime Minister, Brent Symonette, confirming that the Bahamian government had signed on to a United Nations resolution highlighting and calling for action to be taken concerning the discrimination faced by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community across the globe . For many of you this may have come as a complete surprise. Indeed, I’m sure some of you are at this very moment wondering how God will dispense his awesome justice in the face of such bold disobedience. Will he go old school and give us the seven plagues of Egypt? Will he exhibit continuity and stick with the fire and brimstone, subjecting us to the same furious end Sodom and Gomorrah suffered? Perhaps we’ll have an extra busy hurricane season this year? Or worse, will this prove to be the final nail in the coffin of Bahamian heathens everywhere on that righteous conveyor belt to the ever-burning crematorium…also known as Hell? Certainly, even the Bahamian sandstones will cry out because of the significance of this offence. In all honesty I doubt it.  
Before I go any further, I have to give credit where credit is due. This opinion piece was inspired by Deno. Who is Deno you ask? Deno left a comment at the end of The Nassau Guardian article assuring you and I, and everyone else who would read it, that the end is neigh because the Bahamian government has chosen to defend the right of people who are different from the majority, and who’ve been subjected to summary executions, physical violence, severe verbal abuse, narrowed opportunities, restricted civil rights and inadequate civil protections throughout history and even still today.  For Deno, this is a breakdown of the Bahamian moral conscience and a sad day in our history. Curiously enough, Deno didn’t think it important to let us all know that the death of this young mother shot in the head in Grand Bahama might also suggest that something was drastically wrong with the path that we’re going down.  
I would be careless if I didn’t point out that women have in the past, and yes still today, suffer much of the same abuses members of the LGBT community have experienced. No matter, Deno’s line of reasoning is actually not all that novel. There are indeed others who’ve felt the same way. As American Rep. Seaborn Roddenbery is quoted as saying, “[it] is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit... It is subversive of social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy…” Both statements sound pretty similar, except Rep. Roddenbery made that statement in 1912 and he was talking about interracial marriage. Advocates of slavery believed the world would end if blacks were set free, and when women were given the right to vote and allowances to work some men warned of absolute chaos and were certain of God’s retribution then. Do we feel comfortable joining a long line of bigoted drama queens who’ve been proclaiming impending doom in the face of any kind of change in the status quo since time immemorial?

Or would we feel safer in the company of the countries who opposed the United Nations resolution? Russia is known for suppressing opposition and murdering journalist who refuse to tow the State line. China has a similar reputation along with a myriad of other human rights violations and forced, dictatorial communism. In Saudi Arabia women can’t even obtain a drivers license and Nigeria is a country best known for its internet scams, sectarian violence, inflation and extra-judicial killings by security forces. Is this the company we’d like to be in?  
Alas, Deno is unable to defend himself and I’m no bully, so let’s get to the heart of the matter, shall we? What I’m trying to get at is that I find it peculiar that people fret about the wrath God when the gays are involved—whether it comes in the form of tornadoes (like the ones in Nassau recently), no crabs walking or a slow lobster season—yet remain silent when sins that hit closer to home bubble to the surface. No one in the bars or churches are talking about how increased rates of domestic violence in the Bahamas signal an impending end, invoking God’s righteous fire. I would wager my less than significant fortune that if the United Nations tabled a resolution to defend the rights of those who’ve fornicated to have access to equal job opportunities, housing or to walk the streets without being beaten to death, there wouldn’t be much of a row. Given how freely Bahamian men and women exercise their God-given right to commit adultery; I can easily imagine vast opposition to a law that would criminalize “sweet-hearting”. And I’m a frequent clubber and bar patron; I’ve seen the “p****popping” and the “daggering”—all sexual public displays of pornographic proportions reminiscent of Babylonian debauchery. Stop passing the buck. If God is busy looking for a reason to end us either he hasn’t been paying attention or he is wildly inefficient.  
Let’s cut the foolishness. In the end, this isn’t about gay or straight, it isn’t about whose sin beats whose, and it isn’t about your Bible. This is about hypocrisy, delusions of innocence, the remnants of a sordid colonial past and a politics of oppression that people—themselves once and still oppressed—have decided to embrace as their own. Christians forget their own history, the executions, abuses and torture they suffered at the hands of the Roman Empire as a little known, small religious sect on the margins of Roman society. Even today Christians are a minority comprising only one-third of the world’s population. Imagine the rest of the world’s 4 billion people deciding that Christians, because they are a minority and worship differently, couldn’t have the same rights as those in the majority. And isn’t there something in that Bible of yours about not judging or not casting stones or something? But let’s face it; I’m obviously not claiming to be a Biblical scholar here.

No, what I am is ashamed. I find it contemptible and vile that people are so comfortable sitting in their glass houses passing judgment on others, using their Bibles and passively adopting legal precedent from colonial masters to justify their arguments; colonial masters who themselves thought it justified to outlaw interracial marriage but never prosecuted the rape of black slave women. While our ancestors were being taught the good news of God’s love at the business end of a musket rifle and a whip, European colonial powers were dismantling inclusive kinship structures native to many African communities .  No one wants to talk about that though, it only seems complicates the story.  
Yes, members of the LGBT community are different. Perhaps, you don’t want to fathom their difference and even thinking about it may make your skin crawl. If this describes how you feel then I have a suggestion: try your best not to be gay and you won’t have a thing to worry about. In the meantime, I believe that your inability to understand or relate to a person’s customs, religion or sexuality does not in turn give you the right to marginalize them. I believe that we should build a community that is inclusive rather than exclusive. I want to believe that a person’s humanity outweighs any other factor and that this alone gives them the right to have a chance at a happy life—a right to equal and adequate opportunities for safety, education, housing, health care and employment. I want to believe that no matter a person’s skin color, genitalia or where they put said genitalia (in relation to a consenting adult, of course) that our society has the capacity to be broad enough to embrace all Bahamians—heterosexual or otherwise.  Maybe this belief is misplaced but that doesn’t mean I’m going stop believing. None of this tells me that the end is near; rather the Bahamian government gave me reason to hope last week that what might actually be down the road is a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

Joey Gaskins is a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY with a BA in Politics. He is currently studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he hopes to attain his MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies and go on to pursue a Doctoral Degree. Joey also writes for the Nassau Liberal  www.nassauliberal. webs.com . You can reach him at j.gaskins@lse.ac.uk ]

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