Americas

Americas

Gender discrimination in nationality laws has been mostly eradicated in the Western Hemisphere. The Bahamas and Barbados are the only remaining countries in the hemisphere that deny women equal rights to confer nationality to their children. 

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Currently women citizens of The Bahamas and Barbados automatically confer nationality to children born in each country, though they do not have the right to confer nationality to their children born abroad. Bahamian and Barbadian women also do not have the right to confer their nationality to foreign spouses, a right that is reserved for men.

A draft referendum has been drafted to amend the Constitution of The Bahamas (Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, 1973) to ensuregender equal nationality rights and ban discrimination on the basis of sex. Despite support voiced by leadership of the two main political parties, the referendum date has been postponed four times. The most recent target date of June 2015, has again been postponed, most likely until after the next parliamentary elections in 2017 .

Suriname is the most recent country in the hemisphere to reform its law to achieve gender equal nationality rights. In July 2014 the Suriname National Assembly amended its 1975 Law on Nationality and Residence. The new law allows mothers to pass on nationality to their children and gives women the same right as men to confer nationality to spouses. Additionally, the reform introduced important safeguards to prevent statelessness due to loss of nationality.

Prior to the reform, children born abroad to Surinamese women married to foreign fathers were denied Surinamese citizenship. In instances where the child was unable to access its father’s citizenship, this rendered the child stateless.