The Bahamas finds itself in a very uncomfortable position today. Over the past few weeks, conversations have been going on about equality. Women’s rights have been at the forefront of this conversation, but women are not the only people affected by the conversation’s catalyst. That catalyst? Four Bills. Four Bills recommended by the Constitutional Commission for amendments to four areas of the Constitution.
We’ll talk more about the current Constitution, the proposed Bills, the implications of a yes/no vote, and all of those details a bit later. For now, let’s keep this as simple as possible. The four Bills intend to make the following changes:
— BILL 1: Allow Bahamian mothers to pass citizenship on to their children born outside of The Bahamas (the way Bahamian men currently can)
— BILL 2: Allow men married to Bahamian women the right to apply for Bahamian citizenship (the way wives of Bahamian men currently can)
— BILL 3: Allow Bahamian men to pass on citizenship to their children born outside of wedlock (the way Bahamian woman currently can)
— BILL 4: Add “sex” to the definition of discrimination (where race, place of origin, colour, and creed are currently listed)
The referendum date was set for November 6, 2014, but the Bills must first pass in the House of Assembly with a 3/4 vote from the Members. Then, it needs to pass in the Senate with a 3/4 majority.
According to Article 54 of the Constitution, 29 of the 38 Members of Parliament need to vote in favour of the Bills for them to go to the Senate. On Friday, Dr. Bernard Nottage, M.P. and Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Perry Christie made contradictory statements with regard to the vote on Wednesday.
Below are excerpts from an article in The Tribune. We emphasize that these two excerpts are from the same article.
There is no telling which way things will go. With MPs politicizing the issue and making public statements against the Bills, we can only hope for 29 out of 38 to vote for this referendum to take place.
Now, we must ask, who is running the show? Is it Dr. Nottage or Prime Minister Christie? That may determine whether or not the Bahamian people ever get to make the decision about these Bills through a referendum on November 6, 2014. Up to now, we still do not have certainty on whether a 3/4 vote is required (as is set forth by the Constitution itself as the minimum) or unanimity.
Please support us in demanding a YES vote from our representatives. We, the people, deserve the chance to become educated on the proposed amendments and have our voices heard. Instead of in-fighting, politicizing, and missing the issues, MPs need to TAKE IT TO THE PEOPLE. We want a BETTER Bahamas for everyone.
Calls to Action for Bahamians:
— Call or email your MP and encourage them to vote YES so YOU have a voice.
— Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper of your choice.
— Join the social media conversation using #TakeItToThePeople and #BetterInTheBahamas
Calls to Action for non-Bahamians:
— Join the conversation as potential tourists on Facebook, RTing our tweets and posting your own using #TakeItToThePeople and #BetterInTheBahamas. Money talks, and you represent a lot of money to this country which is heavily dependent on tourism.
— Contact us with your ideas.