Krystl’s Letter

I came across this Letter to the Editor and thought that it deserves further promotion. It is written by a young woman who I have been fortunate enough to meet on several occassions, and she is quite frankly an amazingly talented young lady. In this letter she has echoed some of the sentiments I put forth in the previous post of ‘Homophobic comments in Parliament’ but I feel she has done so with greater clarity and eloquence than I could have. Of course, all the opinions in it are hers. I haven’t been able to speak with her to ask her permission to reprint it here, but I am confident she won’t mind, and the original is available online at the RG anyway.

Who is a hypocrite? – June 9, 2008

Dear Sir,

Thank you, Louise Jackson, for letting the Premier know that as a representative of Bermuda, participation in any sort of event that celebrates/utilises/profits from or in part from the sexual exploitation, objectification, or commodification of women is completely inappropriate.

No thanks to you, Glenn Blakeney, who seems to feel that it’s an apt analogy to tenuously string a relationship between participation in an event that objectifies women and the passing of a bill (the Stubbs Bill) that decriminalised homosexual sex. Mr. Blakeney said: “It astounds me that (Louise Jackson) would be so hypocritical (in speaking about morality). Those members on the other side were among some of those who passed the Stubbs Bill.”

Mr. Blakeney, when you can demonstrate, without relying on the homophobia, sensationalism, and ignorance that this Government is known for, that the legalising of what two fully consenting human beings do in the privacy of their own homes is tantamount to the end of morality … when you can show that a person’s sexual orientation, whether determined by biology or choice, warrants Government-sanctioned discrimination in housing, public services, or employment … when you can justify to those affected by you and your Government’s ignorance, cowardice, and collective blind eye that denying them of their basic human rights in their own country is moral and just… then you may even fathom of being in a moral place that approximates righteous indignation.

How dare you condone “our” Premier’s participation in the objectification of women and say that giving someone their just rights is hypocritical.

Until we fully grasp that sexism, homophobia, and racism all stem from hatred, intolerance, and dominance, we can continue to take moral high roads that only lead to democratic dead-ends. It is impossible to believe in equality for Blacks and women but to sanction discrimination against homosexuals. It is impossible to stand for justice but to condone, support, or be compliant with another’s marginalisation. When mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and, dare I say, Ministers and doctors, can condone the unjust treatment of those whom they love and say they serve, we have no sense of morality consistency. Until we can support an amendment to the Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation and to protect the rights of all – indeed, we are hypocrites.

KRYSTL ROBINSON-ASSAN
Toronto, Ontario

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7 thoughts on “Krystl’s Letter

  1. starling – can you post blakeney’s actual words re; this – i still contend that he was making an observation as opposed to venting his own opinion. i could be wrong though.

    i also think that the frustration that people rightfully have over the govt.s handling of this issue is misguided. there is a problem with homophobia the world over but it is really a social problem not a legislative one – this woman is pointing the finger at MPs – she needs to point the finger at her fellow members of society – if bda as a society stood up for this issue then the govt. woudl have to act –

    also if gays in bda were sufffering career and physical abuse the way that they do do in cuba or jamaica then i think that society would be more apt to look at the situation – as it is there seems to be no concrete examples of gay bashing or job discrimination that goes on ( i could be wrong – if so i apologize) so the public and govt. will focus on more pressing issues.

    i mean if blakeney’s possible diss is what the local gay community cite as an example of their hardships – that’s kinda a slap in teh face to what some of the real horrors that gay people suffer around the world

  2. Hi Vanz,

    I was not actually present in the House of Assembly when these words were spoken, and due to the continuing failure to initiate the necessary reforms of providing transcripts of parliamentary sessions, I, like most compatriots, am dependent on the quotations provided by the media, in this case, the Royal Gazette. I provided a link to the report in question which included Mr. Blakeney’s quote, in the previous post of Homophobic Comments in Parliament. He was there quoted as saying:

    “It really astounds me that this member would be so hypocritical. Those members on the other side were among some of those who passed the Stubbs Bill (the Bill legalising homosexual sex).”

    You are correct that there is a problem with homophobia worldwide, and that in very real ways it is a social issue and legislative action won’t necessarily change that fact. However, one could equally say that racism, or sexism, for example are also social issues. I don’t think many of us today would believe that we should scrap protection against discrimination on the basis of race or sex though. These were important victories for the civil rights movements. They did not end racism or sexism, just as protection for sexual orientation will not end homophobia. But they are important steps all the same.

    Homosexuals are a minority. They suffer extreme social ostracism in addition to risks to their welfare along the lines of job discrimination and even physical assault and death. We are a small community. It is incumbent on others to support their calls for justice, for often they themselves are forced into silence due to the pervasive homophobia in our society.

    Homosexuals may not be facing as extreme threats as they do elsewhere in the world (such as Jamaica or Cuba – although recent events in Cuba are making it rapidly one of the most gay-friendly latin american countries), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and that we shouldn’t be working to provide protection for them. On a very crude level one could draw comparisons between this argument (its not as bad as elsewhere) to arguments made by the white oligarchy in ourown past, along the lines of our ‘benevolent’ slavery or segregation. I think you would agree with me in condemning this line of reasoing?

    You put forward the argument that there are no ‘concrete examples’ of gay bashing or job discrimination towards homosexuals here. This is not exactly correct. In fact there have been several complaints to the Human Rights Commission (the organisation set up to enforce the Human Rights Act). However the HRC has told these individuals that legally there is no basis for the complaint, as sexual orientation is not covered under the Act that instructs them, and as such have not made formal reports or taken action on the cases in question. Perhaps the most extreme form of discrimination here was the 1993 murder of Wilfred Sharand Ming Jr. (Oopie). This was an openly homophobic murder. The murderer was charged simply for murder, recieving as I understand it a seven (7) year sentence. I’m sure you would agree that the case would have been different had the victim been murdered on the basis of his sex, race, nationality, religion or other criteria protected under our legislation. His murder was a hate crime, but could not be prosecuted as such.

    From my personal experience, and I realise this is easy to discount, from within the Regiment I observed numerous assaults on soldiers (by fellow soldiers) on the basis of sexual orientation. I also know personally several individuals who have experienced social ostracism here, job discrimination and even physical assault on the basis of their sexual orientation. Most of these have decided to go into what they consider to be exile as a result. Many have indeed attempted to seek protection under the Human Rights Commission, but for the reasons stated above found no success along this route.

    The local gay community is hardly citing Mr. Blakeney’s recent comment as an example of their hardship. They are citing it as symptomatic of their hardships and the failure of a Party that officially portrays itself as being progressive and in the forefront of the Bermudian civil rights movement to live up to its claims.

    The organisation Two Words and a Comma (http://www.twowordsandacomma.com/index.php) has done alot of work on this issue, and can provide you with much more information than I have, or is currently on their site. They are I understand gearing up for a new phase in their campaign, and I believe more of these statistics will be made available publically as a result.

  3. How very Ironic!! Unbelievable (or is it?) that Vanz would write this… what if we changed a few important words (in caps), and then ask him/her (read son/mother) if they would use that same argument! (I’ll admit I also did try to correct his/her poor English and spelling where I could)

    “Starling – can you post Blakeney’s actual words re; this – I still contend that he was making an observation as opposed to venting his own opinion. I could be wrong though.

    I also think that the frustration that people rightfully have over the govt.s handling of this issue is misguided. there is a problem with RACISM the world over but it is really a social problem not a legislative one – this woman is pointing the finger at MPs – she needs to point the finger at her fellow members of society – if Bda as a society stood up for this issue then the govt. would have to act.

    Also if BLACKS in Bda were suffering career and physical abuse the way that they do do in Cuba or Jamaica then i think that society would be more apt to look at the situation – as it is there seems to be no concrete examples of BLACK bashing or job discrimination that goes on (I could be wrong – if so I apologize) so the public and govt. will focus on more pressing issues.

    I mean if Blakeney’s possible diss is what the local BLACK community cite as an example of their hardships – that’s kinda a slap in the face to what some of the real horrors that BLACK people suffer around the world.”

  4. as usual so on point and perceptive slowhand – u must be both blk and gay – brilliant as usual

    in the real world, starling, thanks for the heads up – i had not known about the murder or the regiment issues – unfortunately bda’s fractured society does help – i was at the meeting of the UK mps at msa earlier this year and saw the labour MP have a very nice exchange for 3 members of bda’s lgbt community while teh conservative MPs could not be any less interested – but as usual the RG chose to report on what snippets from that meeting that they could twist to show the labour party (in bda) in a bad light

  5. Just another example of exactly how much in touch you are with our Bermudian homeland. Despite your claims, you have no real idea what is going on here Vanz, just what your mom can tell you and what you can glean from your quick visits. Thats not the real world, thats your own fantasy land.

  6. to each his own slowhand – it is sometimes thought that the relatively smooth transition that happened in south africa had to do with the fact that the first leader mandela was in prison during the harshest periods of the freedom fighting which allowed him to be divorced and clear minded from teh fighting = the next leader mbecki – was in exhile for the bulk of the freedom fighting which allowed him the same distance – point being = distance is sometimes a good thing – but i’m sure starling can speak more to the exiled/ non exiled tensions and what the effects where in the long wrong

  7. Well – of all the Letters to the Ed I have EVER seen, this one takes the biscuit (sorry Vanz).

    Beautifully crafted – succinct – and straight to the throat and for once, lacking in political jargon.

    What a woman!!

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