Christian Council proposes Sanctity of Marriage Bill preserves, protects marriage
The Bahamas Christian Council, in a press conference yesterday, proposed a Sanctity of Marriage Bill to coincide with the government’s own Sexual Offences Bill, stating that the former will ‘preserve and protect’ marriages in the country.
Bishop Delton Fernander, the council’s president said, the group will launch a national campaign to strengthen marriages in an effort to stop abuse, sexual or otherwise, before it starts.
“We have to get to the point where we say that we’ve got to deal with it before it happens,” Fernander said.
The Christian council’s president further stated, that the proposed bill makes provisions for tax breaks for married couples as an incentive to stay together and will also tackle the issue of sweet hearting.
“If there are serious situations leading to extra marital affairs [the] first our commitment is to our spouse,” he said.
“We made a vow before God – till death do us part to that spouse. Let’s work on that first rather than thinking the option of going out and doing extra marital affair. If there is a problem at home, ask for help. Let’s try and fix it.”
While religious leaders did not vote on the government’s proposed amendments, Bishop Fernander stressed that the council does not support abuse of any kind.
“This is what I said in the beginning… we would get papers, positions and we would write back the position of the council,” he explained.
“We don’t enact laws. We await the final draft and we will convene again as a council and we will vote on that draft. But what we do do, is try to push the country in a healthy position forward.”
An amendment to the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act was drafted in January 2018, in response to widespread calls from the public for the Minnis administration to criminalize marital rape.
The Council has not declared whether it is for or against the amendments however, according to Bishop Fernander, it is an issue they have decided to vote on at a later time.
Attorney General Carl Bethel stated earlier this year, that marital rape will be criminalized as “aggravated spousal sexual abuse.”