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Nottage ‘Taken Aback’ By Referendum Debate Delay

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

ORGANISER of the government’s Constitutional reform education campaign, retired Justice Ruby Nottage, said yesterday that she was “taken aback” by the announcement that parliamentary debate of the highly anticipated equality Bills would be delayed.

However, Prime Minister Perry Christie said given the complexity of the Constitutional changes, additional time was acceptable to allow the electorate to become well versed on the changes to come. He noted that the referendum would not take place unless there was unity on both sides of the House of Assembly.

Debate on the Constitutional Bills is expected to begin next Wednesday. The delay came after Opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis requested that the debate be put off with a view to giving not only Free National Movement supporters, but their constituents adequate time for education.

Dr Minnis said: “I know the stress, the hardships, and the discrimination they suffer. It is a constitutional matter that we must deal with and as you know the Constitution is the heart and the soul of our country. Therefore, I think the opposition would like additional time to review and discuss the matter even with its constituents, so that there is a proper understanding among its constituents, a proper understanding among its supporters and a proper understanding, especially among all Bahamians and women and men at large so that they can understand what exactly this equality bill is all about.”

When asked by House Speaker Dr Kendal Major what amount of time the opposition was considering, Dr Minnis said it was difficult to say.

Mr Christie said in the meantime the Constitutional Commission could address the opposition and ensure that there was full understanding.

Leader of government business in the House, Dr Bernard Nottage, said he was under the impression that the opposition would only need an additional week. He suggested that during the coming week, both government and opposition officials meet to discuss the Bills to be debated.

The first Bahamas Constitution Bill 2014 seeks to achieve gender equality. As it now stands a child born outside the Bahamas to an unmarried Bahamian woman automatically acquires Bahamian citizenship. In other words under the present law, wherever born an illegitimate child takes the Bahamian mother’s nationality. However, if that Bahamian woman were married to a foreigner and the child of the union were born outside the Bahamas, the child would not be Bahamian. It would take the nationality of its foreign father or of the country in which it was born. However, under the proposed bill such a child, born of a Bahamian mother, married to a foreigner, would also now have Bahamian nationality. Presently, only those children born outside the Bahamas of a Bahamian father are Bahamian, regardless of the mother’s nationality.

The second Bill would allow a Bahamian woman who marries a foreigner to secure for her husband the same rights to Bahamian citizenship as a Bahamian man, under the present Constitution, has always been able to confer on his foreign wife.

The third Bill seeks to remedy the one area of the Constitution that discriminates against men based on gender. Presently, an unmarried Bahamian father cannot pass his citizenship to a child born to a foreign woman.

The final Bill will end discrimination based on sex. This involves the insertion of the word “sex” in Article 26 of the Constitution to make it unconstitutional to discriminate based on whether someone is male or female.

Comments

henny 5 years, 1 month ago

HERE YOU GO AGAIN WITH EXCUSES MR. PM!!

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TalRussell 5 years, 1 month ago

The Haitian President pays a visit to Bahamaland and poses for local media cameras with Chrstie and Minnis splashing they big smiles, acting likes he is the boss-man of Haiti and Bahamaland. Remember Comrade Minnis who just a week ago was saying how gung ho he was to pledge his party's commitment to support the announced (now canceled) constitutional referendum - but in the House yesterday he quickly changed his position of having to review, before really pledging his red party's support? I guess he was two damn busy posing for smiling media photos with the visiting Haitian president - so who is speaking out for we the peoples?

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 1 month ago

There is nothing to delay here ............ these bills/issues are 12 years overdue. Come on ... we need to deal with the bigger fish......... VAT, webshops, BEC, ......... when are these going to be debated ????????????? Or is the government stalling to prorogue the House??????

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mangogirl01 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, nothing to delay since its the exact bill from 2002! Stalling to prorogue, hmmm, you may be on to something!

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