Bostwick-Dean: It would be a tragedy if Olympian Shaunae could not pass on her citizenship if she has a child
“I encourage us as a nation to again take that bull by the horns, to again put the question to the people”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Senator Lisa Bostwick-Dean yesterday suggested that the government hold another constitutional referendum to allow Bahamian women to automatically pass on their citizenship to their children.
Bostwick-Dean made the call as she highlighted the would-be plight of two-time 400m Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who is married to Estonian Olympian Maicel Uibo, to pass on her Bahamian citizenship to their children.
The Bahamas has had two constitutional referenda concerning the matter — one in 2002 and another in 2017, both of which were overwhelmingly rejected.
“I speak to my fellow women who would have voted against the resolution twice,” Bostwick-Dean said.
“The reality is women in this country make up more than 50 percent upon the vote.
“If every woman would have casted their vote accordingly, we would not be in this situation.
“It is not incumbent upon us as women to stand and speak about what hasn’t happened for us. We must stand up and vote in favor of ourselves.”
Bostwick-Dean said it would be a “tragedy” if Miller-Uibo has a child but that child would not be a citizen of The Bahamas unless she gives birth in the country or unless citizenship is conferred upon the child.
She said it is “even more frightening” that influential people have postured that “it doesn’t make sense” to bring these constitutional referendums because the Bahamian people always vote no.
“It is something we must again address,” she said.
“…I encourage us as a nation to again take that bull by the horns, to again put the question to the people. But I also encourage the legislature that the next time we go, please make it a simple question.”
The senator indicated that the questions should simply ask: “Are you in favor of women having an equal right to confer citizenship onto children?” and “Are you in favor of men having the same right as woman?”
The referendum under the Ingraham administration on February 27, 2002 covered a broad range of constitutional issues and was shrouded in politics.
The 2016 referendum under the Christie administration was equally mired in politics and the questions were highly debated across different sectors of society.
Bostwick-Dean said: “I implore all persons seeking to be our representatives in the next lap to again visit this issue [for] when Shaunae Miller-Uibo and other Bahamian women have children anywhere in the world.”
She added that whenever the matter is redressed, it should be dealt with retroactively for all those who have rights to citizenship.
The Bahamas Law Reform Commission is still in the process of making final revisions to the third draft Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill, which would seek to address how citizenship is passed on.
The Court of Appeal also recently upheld a historic Supreme Court ruling that children born out of wedlock to foreign women and Bahamian men are entitled to citizenship at birth.
The government had sought to appeal a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder handed down last May over the true interpretation of Article 6 of the Constitution.
Attorney General Carl Bethel has advised that the government intends to go to the Privy Council to appeal the decision.