The Bahamas Tribune reported MP Leslie Miller said he would contribute the first $1,000 to an effort to relocate trans people. The newspaper noted the lawmaker also said that he prays “God would come now and just end the world” because trans people’s actions “go against his will.”
Miller’s comments sparked outrage among Bahamian LGBT rights advocates.
“It was not a joke,” Alexus D’Marco, president of Bahamas Transgender Intersex United, told the Washington Blade on Thursday during a telephone interview from the Bahamian capital of Nassau.
Erin Greene, a Bahamian LGBT rights advocate, described Miller’s comments to the Blade as “hate speech” and “extreme and dangerous.”
“In response to him we need to be compassionate and we need to be respectful,” she said on Wednesday during a telephone interview from the Bahamas. “We don’t want to treat him the way that he is treating us.”
Miller represents Tall Pines on New Providence, the island on which Nassau is located. He is a member of the Prime Minister Perry Christie’s Progressive Liberal Party.
Progressive Liberal Party Chair Bradley Roberts has distanced himself from Miller’s comments.
“Let me say first of all that I never said I was speaking for the party,” Miller told reporters on Thursday, according to the Bahamas Tribune. “I was speaking on behalf of the Bahamian people.”
“I have nothing against these people,” he added, referring to LGBT Bahamians. “My point is that if you want to live that kind of lifestyle, keep it to yourself. Don’t come out bragging so big and bold. It’s as if you are trying to impose your will on us.”
‘We have to talk equality across the board’
Miller’s comments come against the backdrop of a June 7 referendum that would guarantee equality between men and women in the Bahamian constitution.
Opponents have argued the proposed amendment would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the country, even though Bahamian law defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
The Bahamas’ nondiscrimination and hate crimes laws do not include sexual orientation or gender identity. Consensual same-sex sexual relations are legal in the country.
D’Marco is president of the D’Marco Foundation, which advocates in support of LGBT people and those with HIV/AIDS throughout the Caribbean. She is also a travel consultant who seeks to promote LGBT tourism to the Bahamas.
D’Marco told the Blade the proposed amendment does not specifically include LGBT Bahamians. Bahamas Transgender Intersex United late last month launched “Bahamian Trans Lives Matter,” a campaign that seeks to extend rights to trans and intersex Bahamians in employment and other areas.
“If we’re going to talk about equality in our country, we have to talk equality across the board, not just singling out a group of persons,” D’Marco told the Blade.
Greene has also raised objections, noting the proposed amendment would “invisibilize” intersex people and some trans people.