August 15, 2016
South Beach MP Cleola Hamilton yesterday struck at the 'vote no' pastors from the recent referendum campaign, the Bahamas Christian Council and other groups that speak to moral issues on a national platform, for their failure to decry the controversial suggestion made recently by Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn that the state should tie the tubes of unwed mothers with more than two children.
Lightbourn appeared to be referencing women who cannot care for their children. He made the comment in his speech at the Free National Movement's convention on July 28. Although he has since apologized for the remark, he continues to face stinging criticism.
"There was no mention of a vasectomy for men, but there was tying tubes of a woman, which in other words is sterilization," said Hamilton during her contribution to the debate on the National Health Insurance Bill.
"Mr. Speaker, this stands to reason whether the shadow (attorney general Richard Lightbourn) truly thinks women are inferior.
"Mr. Speaker, I note with concern there was no outcry from the church group who represented the campaign against equality; there was no outcry from the Christian Council. Where was the voice of the Crisis Centre, who I credit for speaking up on issues such as this?"
In the lead-up to the June 7 constitutional referendum, the issue of women's rights was in the national spotlight.
The government had touted the four referendum bills as necessary to achieving gender equality in law. But a very vocal campaign by 'vote no' pastors helped secure a defeat of all the referendum bills.
Members of the 'Save Our Bahamas' campaign who led that effort were Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church, Pastor Lyall Bethel of Grace Community Church, Rev. Alfred Stewart of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and popular talk show host Kevin "Minister K" Harris.
Continuing her point in Parliament yesterday, Hamilton asked, "Where is the Grand Bahama Human Rights group who works so hard and paid handsomely to [support] Save The Bays, but cannot find a voice to save the future generation of this nation, which are our children, Mr. Speaker?"
Here, Hamilton was referencing the environmental group, which the government claims is being funded by billionaire Louis Bacon in an effort to destabilize the Christie administration.
Some of the principals of the human rights groups are also connected to Save The Bays.
Hamilton said, "I cry shame on them, every last one of them, and I congratulate those organizations who spoke up publicly."
Hamilton said she, her daughter and all women of The Bahamas heard Lightbourn's apology.
But she said, "Good people have good things in their hearts; that is why they say good things. But those who have hearts full of evil, that's why they say evil things. What people say from their mouths comes from the fullness of their hearts."
Candia Dames, Guardian Managing Editor
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