By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer has claimed that the Christie administration is using the upcoming gender equality vote as a “ruse” to implement lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in order to conform to international human rights policies.
In a speech at a recent Bahamas Bar Association forum on the upcoming referendum, Dame Joan suggested that the government’s aggressive support for the YES Bahamas campaign is a push to ensure that all Bahamians are “in step” with LGBT rights as prescribed by the United Nations.
She insisted that the vitriol levelled at her in recent weeks because she does not support the referendum occurred because the government viewed her as a hindrance to their attempt to sway the public into a “yes” vote.
“The hidden agenda, I say, was deposited last October when the leader of this country said in a public statement published in The Guardian, that we as Bahamians need to get in step with the rest of the world with regard to the LGBT agenda.”
It is unclear which statement Dame Joan was referring to, however in March 2015 The Tribune reported that Prime Minister Perry Christie told College of the Bahamas students that leaders of conservative countries must consider how their nations could “co-exist in a world” where global attitudes towards social issues like homosexuality are shifting.
According Dame Joan, the four referendum bills are being presented in a certain manner to dupe voters. She claimed that matters of citizenship that are contained in the first three bills are being masqueraded as the crux of the vote as a way to misguide voters away from the intentions of bill four. This bill seeks to eliminate discrimination based on sex, which has been defined as being male or female.
She stressed that the government could make the necessary changes proposed by the referendum without a public vote.
“Must I allow you to brainwash me and claim that you are helping my children and grandchildren? Don’t play with people’s minds. We are not toys, we are human beings, we have the capacity to think. Don’t insult our intelligence,” she said.
“I know they carried me to war because I honestly said I hadn’t read the bills. I saw no need for me to read the bills because the bills in my humble opinion, in my very humble opinion, are not worth the paper they are printed on.
“Am I crazy, or I can’t read now? Why do you insult me and think that I must swallow drivel poured down my throat, incisively?
“Must I allow you to brainwash me and claim that you are helping my children and grandchildren? Who are you helping and what is the purpose of all this waste of time, money and energy?
“I am not a part of the ‘no’ vote campaign, I simply said what Joan Sawyer would do. I am not trying to tell you how to vote. But I am not going to vote for nonsense. It is time we get it right, we need to raise the level of debate.”
Dame Joan, who is also a former chief justice, also accused the government of dumbing-down the population.
“We are dealing with human beings and we are trying to establish a code of decency and public and moral conduct. You cannot build a country on immoral conduct, you not build it.
“I don’t care what they say, you must have a firm moral base. When England was Christian it conquered one-third of the world. Where are they now? When Spain was Christian how much did it have? Where is it now? America is imploding. America is at war with itself.”
Dame Joan said that global and local standards should not be changed to align with “personal problems.”
“Standards must stay in place, they are set as goals for which we ought to strive. Not as soon as it suits us, put them on one side and then we accommodate whoever. Where will it end?
“What happened to us? Are we so enamoured (by) this thing called money that we have forgotten who we are? How important we are as people? How important life is? How important it is to strive for excellence? Are we going to always consider going with the lowest common denominator rather than the highest common factor?”
Advance polls for the gender equality referendum were held yesterday.
General voting is scheduled for next Tuesday across the country.