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Former AG: Pass the bill

Former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said today that the decision on whether the government should advance legislation to allow Bahamian men and women to pass on citizenship in all circumstances is a “no brainer” as she urged the government to “get it done.”

“There is already a bill drafted that gives women the right to pass their citizenship on to their spouses, and their citizenship on to their children and for single Bahamian men also to pass their citizenship on to their children under certain circumstances,” she said when asked about the recent debate on citizenship.  

“To me, it’s a no brainer. Get it done.

“Now that’s not to say that it’s the same as eliminating discrimination from our constitution. But I want to point out that today while people are wringing their hands and worrying about what will happen, there are women who are suffering. There are children who are suffering and there are men who are suffering and it is the job of our legislators to eliminate, not cause suffering.

“Pass the bill.”

Last month, Attorney General Ryan Pinder said no bill will be brought before the Privy Council rules on whether the constitution provides an automatic right to citizenship at birth to the children born out of wedlock to Bahamian fathers and foreign mothers.

The Privy Council heard arguments on the issue on January 17.

Maynard-Gibson said people should follow the example set by the suffragettes, who came together to push their cause until they secured the right to vote.

“If we as citizens want this, we will get it done,” she said.

“Politicians respond to the needs of their constituents, otherwise they know what will happen.

“The vote is a very powerful thing. Don’t underestimate it.”

In a 2016 referendum, voters rejected proposed changes to the constitution that sought to address the ability of Bahamians to pass on their citizenship to children and spouses.

A similar exercise in 2002 was also rejected.