Audrey Matura Shepherd says the Constitution already defines descrimination

Meanwhile, the 2013 Revised National Gender Policy continues to be topic of major discussion. The current government is standing its grounds when it comes to the Gender Policy. Despite disagreement over key issues on gender identity and sexual orientation topics named with the manual; Prime Minister, the Hon. Dean Barrow said yesterday that there’s only one calling for the removal of the policy which is not a true representation of the views and opinion of all and that it’s not law.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow:
vlcsnap-2013-05-31-19h32m49s217This gender policy is not law, it does impose obligations on the churches or on anyone else in the society; this is the position of the state which has the constitutional obligation of acting in a certain way towards all its citizens.  I have gone over that policy again and again in consequence of the fire-storm that the churches have set off and I am telling you that I am completely satisfied that it is a good policy and that there is a great deal of misunderstanding, a great deal of misinterpretation, on the part of those that are opposed.   It’s going to be a long process but I am  going to personally take charge of the campaign to ensure that a proper understanding is had on the gender policy and it will not be withdrawn.

The matter was discussed on this morning’s episode of Rise and Shine where numerous viewers called in to comment on what the PM refers to as a policy which on a whole is good.

Audrey Matura Shepherd:
vlcsnap-2013-06-06-21h24m24s28He said this thing is no law,it’s just policy. But let me read you out of the General Policy why I can dispute what he has said.  Page 12, when they spoke about what is the purpose of the policy, it said: It’s to act as a basis for establishing a legal framework that supports and facilitates the achievement of gender equality and equity.  Page 14 says: Will engage in legal reform to ensure de jure and de facto gender equality and equity. Page 19 says: It will implement legislation and related strategies aimed at increasing road safety.
Page 23: Strengthen the regulatory framework in consultation with stakeholders to ensure greater accountability for education delivery and for provisions of National Gender Policy by all publicly financed educational institutions.
vlcsnap-2013-06-06-06h57m14s188Page 25: Develop legislation that prohibits all forms of discrimination.
The policy itself is telling you that this is the framework, this is the foundation on which legal reform will come. It’s in the document and yet the Prime Minister will have the audacity to say that he read through the entire document. They think people won’t read this?

Audrey Matura Shepherd says that in regards to the PM’s comment about the policy being done to ensure that there’s no discrimination, she says that the Constitution already defines what discrimination is.

Audrey Matura Shepherd:
Now if we look at the Constitution itself, he’s saying “Look we’re doing this to ensure that there’s no discrimination bases on our mandate of the Constitution.”  But let’s read the constitution fairly.  It says in this section, “the express and discriminatory means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by sex (not sexual orientation), race, place of origin, political opinion, colour or creed, whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions, to which persons of another such description are not made subject or accorded privileges or advantages, which are not accorded to persons of another such description.”  I read that because what I wanted to know that our Constitution already defines what amounts to discrimination.  Now for him to make it seem like this Gender Policy is just falling in line with that, to me is totally flowing the situation, because the law is clear already.  Now if you want to tell us that you want to amend the provision of the Constitution to be more encompassing of issues, then i will believe that.  Then I know you don’t need to go back to school, as the law stands right now.  Let us not fool ourselves what the Constitution says.

To drive that point home Matura gave her own personal example

Audrey Matura Shepherd:
Now on the issue of discrimination, everybody’s being discriminated against. I felt discriminated against the other day, but is there provision in the constitution that i can rely on?  Clearly not, but will I make myself special and say “Well let’s change the law just to suit me.”  No, because I have agreed to live in a society where there’s these rules. But if I want a change, I would pressure for the change. But the Government can only go get the mandate from the people.  Now let’s not forget on the 25th of April, 2008, they passed an amendment of the Referendum Act, you know. And that amendment says that we the people cannot have a referendum if we think it’s of national importance, but that Referendum Act also give the Government to call it’s own referendum.  and I think the next step should be from the leader of the Opposition, since the Government doesn’t want to take the lead, and the Leader of the opposition has clearly, based on what you just reported, taken a strong position that wants to include people.  He’s not saying he will go with everything, but he’s giving the opportunity to include. Well he needs to get up now in the National Assembly and call and table for a Referendum on this issue to be held.

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