by Linda Straker
Grenadians will no longer be voting to make proposed changes to the 42–year–old constitution on 27 October, and instead will be making that decision sometime in November.
The decision to change the date was announced late Tuesday evening by Attorney-General Cajeton Hood, and Chairman of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee Dr Francis Alexis, who addressed members of the press.
“This decision is in the broader national interest,” said Hood who explained that in recent days many people were asking for more time so that they can get a better and in-depth understanding of the Rights and Freedom Bill which has become a bone of contention among certain sections of the public.
Some religious leaders are saying the clause on Gender Equality will eventually provide for same-sex marriage. Hood said that will not be the reality, as the wording in the Bill is specific as to what is gender. “Gender is clearly defined, so that should not be an issue, but at the same time a lawyer can take up any matter and make a case out of it,” he added.
Hood was unable to provide the exact date for the referendum as this will be done when the new writ is issued by the Governor–General.
Dr Alexis said that he believes the additional time will work in the interest of the Advisory Committee and the voting population, as it will provide the public with more time to educate themselves. “We believe that the added educational time will allow for people to have a better understanding,” he said. More and more religious groups are making requests for focus-group type discussion with members of the Constitution Advisory team.
Alexis explained that the more the clause on Gender Equality is discussed with the religious groups, the more they are becoming comfortable with the meaning and interpretation of the clause. “And so, we believe that once we continue to read and share the meaning of that part of the Bill the people will genuinely understand it,” said Dr Alexis, who is of the opinion that the Rights and Freedom Bill is very important to every citizen.
“This Bill is of great importance to the country… and we have no intention to change the substance of the Bill,” Hood added.