Richard Lightbourn, Member of Parliament for Montagu publically apologized for statements made, during the second night of the Free National Movement’s (FNM) 2016 Convention.
Lightbourn was critized for proposing that laws should be enacted regarding childbirth of unwed Bahamian mothers, a statement for which he immediately apologized for following his address last Thursday at the Melia Resort in Nassau.
During his convention contribution Thursday (July 28) evening Lightbourn stated, “It is also a necessity for us as a nation to consider adopting the lead of several countries in the world, which will result in an unwed mother having her tubes tied after having more than two children which will in the end result in fewer children being born. The state should not have the burden of paying for the upbringing of children.”
In the House of Assembly’s morning session on Wednesday, Lightbourn again apologized for the comments made, which have, over the past few days, erupted in a highly debatable topic throughout the country.
“Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that we have arrived at this stage, but I do say that I have acknowledged my poor selection of words, which I gave at the FNM Convention. I have, however, as has been mentioned, immediately afterward, issued a statement apologizing for the comments, which were made.
“I certainly anticipated that when I came to this place, today, that I would receive an attack from members opposite. It is unfortunate that there is this selective outrage being expressed,” said Lightbourn.
“My words were clearly misinterpreted and I would have hoped that this matter would have given this House the opportunity to direct its attention towards a matter that is a serious concern to this country.
“We need to have this conversation with regard to sexual responsibility in our country. I do not think that we are going to serve this House and the country well unless we stop pushing this matter under the table and ignoring it as if it does not exist. I again express my apologies to this House, to the country with regard to my comments,” concluded Lightbourn.
Loretta Butler-Turner, MP for Long Island in defence of Lightbourn noted, “There is no question, that what the Member of Parliament (MP) for Montagu said was certainly regrettable. I am very happy that he stepped away from it very quickly.
“I stand with the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Hubert Minnis) with regards to distancing ourselves from that. However, Mr. Speaker, in the fullness of all that we do here, as outstanding honorable men and women, we have raised this particular issue to a very, very high level.
“I think only Mr. Speaker, of the member for Bain and Grant’s Town, and commend him for the work that he has done in his capacity, as Minister of Health and as an obstetrician and gynecologist, in ensuring that interventions for peoples lives are effectively dealt with though through educational ways such as planned parenthood. I think that would certainly be the way forward.
“However, Mr. Speaker, we have sat in this place and have heard the most abusive things herd against women, women of color, by members in this place, uttered in this House, and yet the outrage never came and was never even delayed,” said Butler-Turner.
“Mr. Speaker, if we can sit here as legislators and take grave exception, why is it that we do not take exception to individuals who talk about beating their girlfriends, and we not stand up for that. That is as egregious Mr. Speaker, as any comment made.
“Mr. Speaker, we have another member who never sat in this place, but now sits and ran as a delegate, for a political party, we also had a very high ranking public officer of the court speak about flogging immigrants, and yet Mr. Speaker, where was the outrage?
“We all make mistakes Mr. Speaker, that is the larger picture and while we should all be remorseful for the mistakes that we make, and step away from them and give the apology, Mr., Speaker, I cannot sit here, in good conscience and not stand to protect individuals who are being attacked at this level,” stated Butler-Turner.
Minnis added, following Butler-Turner’s comment, “I want to remind the Bahamian populous that the Member (Lightbourn) had apologized immediately.
“I don’t think there are any of us, in this Parliament or in The Bahamas who would have said some words, who immediately regretted what was said. I think that we should be mature enough to accept apologies from individuals.
“If we can accept apologies from the general public then we should be mature enough to accept apologies here in this honorable place. We must lead by example, after all Mr. Speaker, it was the Lord who said, ‘He who is without sin, cast the first stone.’”
Published Thursday, August 4, 2016