While I was at The Royal Gazette, I asked in editorials for commensense, tolerance, understanding, togetherness …. as Bermuda fights to overcome its deep-seated problems.

But what do I see? I see quite extraordinary comments from someone elected to office that must have made an awful lot of people cringe in  anger and embarrassment

Here are some extracts from a  story in The Royal Gazette about Donal Smith’s, the Deputy Mayor of the Corporation of Hamilton, views on homosexuality:

“I’m not in support of it — not even two dogs get together and do the type of things that these people are alleged to be liking.” Later the article says that he denounced “weak, weak politicians who would defend an argument that includes this type of behaviour”. (Presumably a reference to a Human Rights Act amendment that outlaws discrimination based on a person’s sexuality.)

The article goes on: “But let’s not just talk about homosexuality. Let’s not just talk about gays and lesbians and freaks. Let’s talk about sin. We were born in it, shaped in it, wrapped up in it — we are sin. We mess up, we fall down and we get on our knees and we ask for forgiveness, but sin is sin.”

So what sort of state does Smith want to live in?  Shall we stone sinners on the steps of City Hall? And how on earth can he justify his use of the words ‘freaks’ You could argue that his outburst is freakish, but perhaps that would be too kind.

To me, it again highlights the fact that Bermuda, as a country, has a long way to go to reach maturity. These comments are at best immature, at worst homophobic and offensive.That they come from someone who clearly wants to be in a position of authority makes it worse.

Unfortunately, also, his views are likely to be echoed at BBQs, in bars and at home. He would not feel comfortable making them, unless he believed he had support. He is a politician after all.

And it all comes in the wake of a plea by some churches to be exempt from the amendments to the Human Rights Act which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. People’s religious beliefs are more important than people’s human rights….?

Do they not see the irony that it is a basic human right to exercise different religious beliefs?

That Smith’s comments have been condemned by some in the OBA speaks volumes. The PLP, as far as I have seen so far, has been silent. But then, I believe its power base lies more among churchgoers. But it does not excuse silence.

Smith must go. Either he steps down or the Mayor sacks him, through whichever means possible in the City of Hamilton’s laws.

To keep him, to remain silent is tacit support for his values. If ever Bermuda is to grow up, action now could signal a first significant step.

I sincerely hope that institutions around the Country are similarly appalled and are making their voices heard privately and publicly. I would like to see the media, through editorials and op-ed, taking a position and invigorating the debate.

I once said to my very Christian but Conservative voting mother that Jesus would always have voted Labour because, I think, he would have believed in a state system that helped the poor and disadvantaged and would have preached equality.

I am no expert on the Bible, but is that not what Christianity is basically all about? Or should be about …….

PS, There are no links because as I write this the RG website is down for their revamp.

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