The insertion of the terms gender and gender equality into our new constitution puts us face to face with the need to clarify our definition of these terms if we are to use them in our document.
The bill on the fundamental rights and freedoms defines gender to mean “the range of characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between male and female.” It then defines gender equality to mean that men and women “should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against based on gender.”
The bill does not say that men and women should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against. It says that they should not be discriminated against based on gender; that is, they should not be discriminated against based on “the range of characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between male and female.”
The bill does not mean that men and women should not be discriminated against based on the range of characteristics differentiating between men and women. What we have here is the possibility of manipulation of language in the use of “gender” and “gender equality”. Legal experts are quite familiar with such a possibility in the framing and the interpretation of the law.
Male and female do not in the 21st century always have to do with the distinction between men and women. In a list of terms, one of which is “gender identity”, International Spectrum, a publication of the University of Michigan defines gender identity to be:
The sense of “being” male, female, genderqueer, agender, etc. For some people, gender identity is in accord with physical anatomy or expected social roles. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex and sexual orientation are separate and that you cannot assume how someone identifies in one category based on how they identify in another category.
Notice that one’s gender identity is the sense of being male, female, genderqueer, agender, etc. It is not the sense of one’s being a man or a woman. The Guardian, a UK newspaper, in its December 29, 2015 edition, defines gender identity to be: “The internal perception of one’s gender and how they label themselves based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be”.
One legal luminary asked me, when I began to draw attention to the definition of gender identity: “Where does it say “gender identity”?
That is, where does the bill say “gender identity”?
The implication was that “gender” and “gender identity” are so different from each other that they cannot be related to each other in our interpretation of the bill. Is this not another instance of the manipulation of language? What is noteworthy is that a United Nations publication Free & Equal has admitted that both sexuality and gender are not black and white.
The UN’s position on gender is exactly what a number of pastors, citizens and I are saying. Gender is a fluid term. The UN does not agree with our authorities. We must avoid putting such a term in our document unless we define it in a way that is in agreement with what the authorities profess that they mean.
The official position of the CRAC and other national authorities is that this section on gender and gender equality is designed to assert the equality between men and women. In this day and age, male and female can be psychological and sociological while men and women are terms that generally relate to biology. In times gone by we were taught that gender was simply a grammatical distinction differentiating among masculine, feminine, common and neuter. This is no longer so.
Consequently, in order for the definition of “gender” and “gender equality” to be in accord with what the authorities are professing we ought to write: Definition of gender and gender equality 18T. In this Chapter (a) “gender” is the range of characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between men and women.
(b) “gender equality” reflects the view that men and women should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against, based on their being men or women.
In addition to all of this, there are indications that we are encountering a neo-colonialist scenario in which foreigners are coming to our country to tell us what to do with our constitution.
This is both suspicious and dangerous. It is an affront to our national dignity and independence. We are a tiny nation but we can depend on God to guide us as we negotiate our way through the jungle of international intrigue.
We need to tidy up our document. We need also to put into our constitution that marriage is for one man with one woman. If it is not possible for us to make these amendments at this time, even though there may be some very good clauses in the bill on the fundamental rights and freedoms I shall have to vote No to that bill.
Pastor Thomas A. Welch, MCS, PhD
The People’s Church,