Christie Puts The Rights of Bahamian Women on The Back Burner

Prime Minister Perry Christie

In a typically long-winded hodge-podge of gobbledegook, Prime Minister Perry Christie attempted to backtrack and justify the PLP’s disgraceful campaign to deny Bahamian women equal rights.

In 2002, when former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham tried to give women equal rights in The Bahamas, the PLP opposed the referendum meant to end constitutional discrimination against women.

The failed referendum, which was held in February 2002, was introduced by the Ingraham administration and included six questions. It was strongly opposed by the PLP, the opposition party at the time.

Now, fast-forward to 2012. With international pressure against the discrimination mounting, Mr Christie on Wednesday said his administration will  bring another referendum to the public to alter the portions of the constitution that discriminate against women.

It appears however that such a referendum will have to wait until Mr Christie lives up to his alleged promises to illegal numbers kingpins to hold a referendum designed to legalize their criminal enterprises.

When asked why his administration planned to hold a referendum that they so strongly opposed only a decade ago, Mr Christie said the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was not fundamentally against ending gender discrimination.

He said at the time the party sided with members of the religious community who said the government did not consult them about the proposed changes.

He apparently sees no hypocrisy in his party’s intent to legalize numbers despite strong opposition from the same religious community.

“We opposed last time on a specific ground,” Christie told reporters on the sidelines of a conclave for parliamentarians at the British Colonial Hilton.

“I went to the Seventh Day Adventist annual gathering. I remember the then leader of the Seventh Day Adventist [Church] saying they weren’t consulted and that because they weren’t consulted they couldn’t participate,” Christie said.

“I then checked and found out that all of the churches were saying they weren’t consulted, and I went to my colleagues and said, for the purposes of the lack of consultation, we must oppose this unless [then Prime Minister Hubert] Ingraham decides to stop it and consult, and he didn’t and that is how we got to do it.”

Yet, the PLP now seems hellbent on holding a referendum on a national lottery, dismissing the views of those same church leaders.

On Wednesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said that Article 26 and the preamble to Article 15 of the constitution would have to be changed if the referendum is passed.

Mitchell did not say exactly when the referendum would be held, but said the PLP intends to hold it before the end of its five-year term.

This statement will hopefully appease the international community until the focus on discrimination has waned.

The government also plans to call a referendum on gambling before the end of the year, because apparently serving the needs of the numbers kingpins is more important to the PLP than serving the needs of Bahamian women.

Is that putting “Bahamians first?”