The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights is deeply disappointed by the failure of the public referendum in The Bahamas on June 7, which sought to end discrimination on the basis of sex and enshrine the principle of equality between women and men in the Bahamian Constitution.
Three of the four bills included in the referendum sought to ensure that Bahamian women and men are treated equally in their ability to confer nationality to children and spouses. Due to the referendum’s failure, The Bahamas remains one of only twenty-seven countries worldwide – one of two in the Western Hemisphere – that denies mothers the right to confer nationality to their children on an equal basis with men. The Bahamas will also now continue to deny unmarried fathers the ability to confer nationality to their children. Because of this, today children born abroad to Bahamian women or unmarried Bahamian men continue to be at risk of being stateless – whereby no country considers them citizens – while families and spouses may be torn apart because Bahamian women are denied the ability to confer nationality to spouses, a right reserved only for Bahamian men.
The injustices embedded in the current Constitution are clear examples of gender-based discrimination. The perpetuation of this discrimination means that The Bahamas – like too many countries across the globe – remains in violation of its commitments under international law to ensure equality between women and men.
We applaud the efforts by many Bahamians, including Citizens for Constitutional Equality and government leaders, to address this discrimination. The failure of the referendum only serves to highlight the significant attention and hard work required in The Bahamas and worldwide to achieve gender equality.
The Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights and our coalition members around the world, including in The Bahamas, remain dedicated to working for legal reforms to end gender discrimination in nationality laws. We call on the international community – government, organizations, and individuals – to join us in advocating for equal nationality rights for equal citizens, women and men.