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March 10, 2014

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The Truth Hurts

Simon, thank you for amplifying the importance of our democratic secular society support for the human rights of gays and lesbians in your article, and, for calling out the hypocrisy of our nation's homophobia, often disguised by those citing fundamental Christian values and principles. Moreover, you have succinctly illustrated in your article the fact that human rights for all oppressed minority groups are intrinsically connected regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation. I have personally suffered as a gay man living in Bahamian society, both professionally and in my private life. In fact, while serving as an officer at a government national security agency, despite my conscious efforts to be a consummate professional, I was made redundant on the job and denied key assignments, effectively curtailing any opportunity for future advancement. At one point, a senior officer informed me that this was all because of my "lifestyle". Interestingly, during this particular encounter, he never mentioned any issues with my actual performance on the job. On occasions, I was taunted by fellow to officers who sometimes used sexual innuendos and other insults to cast unfounded aspersions on my character. Moreover, in my humble opinion, the agency overstepped its authority by conducting unofficial investigations into my private life, even once questioning my live-in partner in a committed relationship, and, posting photographs of my partner and me on their computer network. Eventually, because of ignorance, and, the lack of written policies protecting the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian members of this agency, I believed I was denied “due process” and now find myself unemployed without any retirement benefits, despite my years of service to this country. Obviously, the 1998 declaration by then National Security Minister Frank Watson, as mentioned in the article, reaffirming the country’s stance of no prohibitions against gays and lesbians serving in the uniformed branches, did little to change the homophobic culture of this agency. In fact, such fundamental changes come to paramilitary and military organizations de jure and not de facto. Accordingly, not unlike the process to repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies of the U.S. Military Forces, the Bahamas Government must transcribe all verbal declarations concerning the rights of gay and lesbian uniform service members into officially written policies. This must be coupled with a program designed to re-educate the agencies affected to ensure the successful implementation of these policies.

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