Sexual preference irrelevant in election, says Bahamas minister

NASSAU, Bahamas — Bahamas Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said on Wednesday that a person’s sexual preference should be irrelevant to whether he or she should be elected to public office.

Mitchell made the statement when asked if an open member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community could ever be elected to Parliament or even as leader of the country.

“Martin Luther King said it is the content of your character,” said Mitchell at a press conference at the House of Assembly.

“That’s the only thing that matters. That’s what this country stands for, the content of your character.”

Mitchell said his aspiration for leadership is no secret and that people have used his support for LGBT rights to say he should be disqualified from ever attempting to lead the country.

“I don’t want to start a whole other thing again,” he said.

“There is no vacancy at the moment. When it comes I don’t see any reason to step back from the breach.”

In a recent speech in Trinidad and Tobago, Mitchell said that his political career suffers because of his support for LGBT rights. The Guardian on Wednesday asked him to explain that statement.

“There is a race for succession going on in the country,” he said.

“So everybody is trying to look and see who in the prospective future might emerge as leaders or a leader of the country.

“Now there are some people who obviously are aware of my ambitions in that direction.

“It’s not something that I have been hiding.

“There is no vacancy in the country at the moment. So the question doesn’t arise. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to plot and scheme into the future and say this fellow, I want to stop him if I can.

“So what do you do, you try to attack [his] intellect, you try to attack the ideas, you say all kinds of things.

“So you try all sorts of things. Now the most recent attack here is, because none of that works, because of his views on this particular subject of LGBT, that disqualifies him and of course that’s not what they really mean and I’m not going to help them out on this occasion.

“That’s not what they really mean. But they are trying to pin something on you and say to the Bahamian people you are unfit to go further.”

Bahamas Faith Ministries International President Dr Myles Munroe said on Sunday the prime minister should replace Mitchell because he does not represent the majority of views of Bahamians.

Munroe was referring to Mitchell’s recent comments on LGBT rights.

He said Mitchell seems to have an agenda that may disqualify him from serving in the position as minister of foreign affairs.

Mitchell said on Wednesday that, while he has enjoyed a successful career, the last three days, following Munroe’s comments, have proven his point.

“Here you have a man going on a pulpit and saying this person is disqualified for the job he now has because of his views,” he said.

“That’s what I mean. That proves the point — not because of the content of his character, not because he is disqualified from office.

“He goes to great extent to say, ‘Oh, I respect him and this and that all the rest, but his views disqualify him from going further’.”

The PLP is scheduled to hold a convention in November. It is unclear if leadership will be a major factor at that time.

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