Bahamianness as an Exclusive Good: Attempting to Change the Constitution, 2002




Constitutional Change Referenda, Gender Equality, Citizenship, Bahamas - Constitutional law - Amending process


In 2014, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie announced a constitutional referendum on gender equality. In 2002, his predecessor, Hubert Ingraham, had already put a similar referendum before the electorate. Back then, the proposed amendments failed. The Bahamas’ independence Constitution imagines citizenship as limited and exclusionary. The amendments currently proposed would indeed remove some levels of discrimination contained in the citizenship provisions, but others would be retained, and some new ones may even be added. However, the discussion of these amendments is dominated by a proxy debate appealing to populist emotions. This paper seeks to analyse the amendments proposed in 2002, which marked the first attempt at constitutional reform since Bahamian independence, as well as the process that ultimately led to defeat at the polls. The focus will be on the amendments addressing gender inequality. Questions include: how would the 2002 proposal have changed the levels of unequal access to citizenship compared to the 1973 Constitution, and how do they compare to the 2014 proposals? And, to what extent were there procedural flaws present in 2002, and to what extent did a distractionary discourse sabotage the declared goal of gender equality?

Author Biography

Stephen B. Aranha, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History

PhD Student


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