April 23, 2016
Pastor Lyall Bethel, who is part of the group that formed the vote no campaign 'Save Our Bahamas', said yesterday that he believes human rights activist Erin Greene's decision to vote no on referendum bill four is "suspect".
Bethel, who is the pastor at Grace Community Church, along with several other pastors formed the campaign with the belief that bill four, which would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against someone based on sex - described as male or female, paves the way for same-sex marriage.
Greene announced on Tuesday that she plans to vote no on that bill because it would not provide protection for intersex Bahamians because they are not defined as strictly male or female. However, last month when the bills were passed in parliament, Greene was amongst protestors in parliament square urging supporters to vote yes.
Greene previously said a yes vote would mean there is a greater space for the LGBT community to seek recourse under the law in housing issues, unemployment issues, and access to state services like hospital care and police services.
Bethel said Greene's sudden change of heart has led him to believe that someone helped her to understand that she made a "bad public move to have the LGBT community to seem to be in full support of bill number four".
"Their move only adds to the suspicion that Bahamians already have about these bills and so I believe someone advised her, 'You need to step back and if you can find some way to say you are now against it you are, in a sense, siding with vote no side then we can pull some of that sting, some of that contamination around it,'" Bethel said.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian on Tuesday, Greene admitted that she was in a difficult position in deciding on whether to support the bill or not but eventually declared that she will vote no.
Bethel said many people approached him about Greene's decision and referred to it as "reverse psychology". He said although it may seem suspicious to him, he still believes Greene made a wise decision.
"I won't comment on it beyond that but I think what she was doing would be a wise thing if you want this to succeed, if they attach themselves to the yes side, it is even more contaminated so I think this is spin mode," Bethel said.
"She's a smart girl. I've always respected her. I say all the time 'I salute her courage,' but it's suspect."
The vote no campaign meanwhile is urging Bahamians to vote their conscience as it relates to the first three bills, which directly address citizenship matters.
Save Our Bahamas was also criticized earlier this week as members of the 'vote yes' committee and another group of pastors, who support the bills, said the group did not have facts to back up their claim that bill four would lead to same-sex marriage.
In their defence, the pastors behind Save Our Bahamas said in a statement on Wednesday that their view is "reinforced by the refusal of the government to amend the constitution of The Bahamas to define marriage as a union between a born male and a born female only".
Pastor Philip McPhee also recently cried shame on the vote no pastors stating that they are taking away from "the effectiveness of what we ought to be doing as a nation".
Guardian Staff Reporter
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