Archdeacon applauds govt.’s decision to revisit gender equality debate

Anglican Archdeacon, James Palacious.

Anglican Archdeacon James Palacious commended the government for moving ahead with its plan to amend the Bahamas Immigration Act and enable all Bahamian women to transfer their citizenship regardless of where they were born.

Currently, those children outside of The Bahamas born to a married Bahamian man are able to immediately receive Bahamian citizenship, but the same rules do not apply if the father is not a Bahamian and the mother is. The children would instead have to apply for citizenship on or before their 18th birthday.

This matter, coupled with others concerning citizenship and gender equality, was put to the Bahamian people in 2002 and again in 2016 when it was overwhelmingly rejected.

Palacious, who championed the cause for gender equality during the 2016 referendum said, the government is moving in the right direction to clear up a long-standing issue although he believes it should also be reflected in the constitution.

“Unfortunately, this issue got caught up in a political confusion and people just voted against it… It was seen as a gay agenda and I’m heartened to see that the government will now do something about it,” Palacious said.

“It would have been good however to have it enshrined in the constitution because you can’t retract that but that, of course, it would be for the people to determine and they have voted no.”

While the government has made no mention of having another referendum on this issue, Palacious said he believes that Bahamians have grown “wary” of referendums.

“They are wary of it – of going to the polls as if to say, what part of this you don’t understand,” he said.

“I think we are just for the lack of a better word we are living in a country that is just narrow-minded when it comes to gender equality … especially since it became clouded with the whole issue of gay rights and people are so afraid of that and as a consequence, many people voted against it.”