A blistering condemnation of homosexuality and same-sex marriage by Hamilton Deputy Mayor Donal Smith has been denounced as homophobia by the Rainbow Alliance.
Mr Smith made the remarks on ‘Issues’, a community programme broadcast on Thursday night by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, in an interview with host Richard Smith.
Frequently invoking his religious convictions, the Deputy Mayor pulled no punches, telling Mr Smith that he didn’t hate homosexuals — but that they were condemned and damned.
During the 15-minute interview, he also let slip the phrase “gays and lesbians and freaks”
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy subsequently wrote to Mayor Graeme Outerbridge suggesting his deputy issue a public apology — and, in a copy obtained by The Royal Gazette, saying it was expected that “you, as Mayor, should consider inviting him to resign from office”.
Mr Outerbridge characterised the Deputy Mayor’s remarks as “his own opinions and thoughts” — and unconnected with “the thinking and sentiments of the Council of the City of Hamilton”.
He added: “We respect everyone’s right to freedom of speech.”
However, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda, a support group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer (LGBTQ) community, issued a statement yesterday saying Mr Smith’s comments on the show had been “riddled with offensive and derogatory language”.
“Moreover, these comments showed a marked ignorance of LGBTQ issues and an overarching tone of homophobia,” the statement added.
“Comments labelling a group of humans as ‘freaks’ display a strong antipathy towards those he summarily dismisses as unworthy of the protection of the law and are founded on ignorance: this is homophobia.”
The group said it supported individual rights to free speech, but added: “You can have strongly-held religious or moral viewpoints without resorting to offensive and hurtful attacks on an entire community.
“This is an inappropriate way for an elected official to speak about anyone, and we await Mr Smith’s apology.”
The Deputy Mayor was away over the weekend at a business conference in Colombia, and Mr Outerbridge did not comment on the matter last night.