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2005-09-08 15:00:06

Ms. Teen Bahamas Stripped of Title

At a press conference last week, the 18-year-old beauty queen accused the committee of discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation.

Miss Teen Bahamas Gari McDonald has been officially stripped of her title. A press statement was released yesterday by the Miss Teen Bahamas committee stating that Ms McDonald "no longer holds the title as Miss Teen Bahamas."

It added: "Gari McDonald will no longer represent and is no longer authorised to conduct any business on behalf of the Miss Teen Bahamas committee. "We would like to take this opportunity to inform the public that Kandra Knowles is the titleholder of the Miss Teen Bahamas programme thus making her Miss Teen Bahamas 2004/2005."

At a press conference last week, 18-year-old Gari accused the committee of discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation.

Ms, McDonald, who admitted being a lesbian, claimed she had been asked to relinquish her crown because of this.

In response to Ms Mcdonald's-press conference, the pageant committee held its own press conference the following day to deny the claims.

Pageant director Chakita Bonirriy told the press that the pageant is based on the principle of moulding young Bahamian females aged 13-19 in the areas of spirituality, social behaviour, academics and personal development.

She said that after certain allegations regarding Ms McDonald were brought to the committee's attention, members met with her in private. However, her sexual orientation was not the specific focus of the meeting.

The committee said Ms McDonald was not being stripped of her crown because she was a lesbian, but because of her failure to attend planned functions and because she broke pageant rules by holding her own press conference without the committee's knowledge or consent and without a committee member being present.

After being asked repeatedly by reporters if the committee would- allow a lesbian to compete or be crowned, assistant treasurer Marsha Lambert said Miss Teen Bahamas cannot condone homosexuality.
The Tribune spoke with committee representative Richa Sands about the decision yesterday.
She said Ms McDonald was replaced for no reason beyond those outlined at the committee's press conference.

Speaking about Ms McDonald's sexual identity, Ms Sands said: "This is not something we condone; we don't condone this lifestyle."

By: Karan Minnis, The Tribune

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