|Constitutional amendment to end gender discrimination|
|Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:42|
NASSAU, The Bahamas -- The Government is to amend the Immigration Act to allow for a longer period for spousal permits, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister the Hon. Fred Mitchell confirmed to Parliament.
In a communication to the House of Assembly on Wednesday, July 25, Mr Mitchell said the Government also proposes to amend those provisions in the Constitution with regard to discrimination against women.
The amendments were to be presented at the first reading stage for debate by Members of Parliament.
The amendment to Section 30 of the Immigration Act is to allow for a longer period for spousal permits.
“The law as it presently reads which applies to the spouses of Bahamian citizens will permit the Board to grant a spousal permit for an indefinite period,” said Mr Mitchell.
Spouses will still be able to apply for Permanent Residence with the right to work, and spouses of Bahamian men will still have their constitutional entitlement to apply for citizenship of The Bahamas, without having to renounce their citizenship of origin, he said.“This amendment is in fulfillment of the promise in our charter for governance on the question of spousal permits,” Mr Mitchell told Parliamentarians.
“This should relieve many of the processing issues and delays accompanying applications for spouses who apply for a legal status in The Bahamas in order to reside and work here.”
Mr Mitchell said the Government is committed to removing “the constitutional anomaly” which exists with regard to women and the ability to pass on their citizenship to their children.
The Government, therefore, proposes to amend those provisions in the Constitution with regard to discrimination against women, “so that it is clear that gender cannot be a reason to discriminate against an individual,” Mr Mitchell said.
This will mean that Article 26 to the Constitution and the preamble to Article 15 of the Constitution will have to be altered and the matter put to the country in a referendum, Mr Mitchell explained.
“We trust that the proposed changes when they come will receive the unanimous consent of the House,” he said.
This will bring The Bahamas in line with other western countries and remove one of the last vestiges of formal discrimination against women, Mr Mitchell said.
In commending the draft amendment to the Immigration Act with regard to spouses, Mr Mitchell hoped that it is seen as a first step toward ensuring that spouses and women in particular have equality of opportunity in this country, he said.
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