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Not ready for same sex debate

Rawle Eastmond posing his question about same sex unions and fatherhood.

by Latoya Burnham

The question of same sex male unions in the context of fatherhood was raised last night during a panel discussion at the Queens Park Steel Shed.

Rawle Eastmond, a member of the organising committee for the discussion, asked the panel of attorney and former Magistrate Faith Marshall-Harris, former National Assistance Board director Reverend Clayton Springer and youth advocate and motivational speaker Corey Worrell how they saw the role of father being prescribed in same sex arrangements.

Eastmond noted that given the international movement legalising such unions, he believed it would not be long before it reached Barbados, with hints that this country should do the same.

He was speaking at the Bureau of Gender Affairs and Barbados Youth Development Council forum on Fatherhood: Defining The Role of Men in Today’s Society.

Marshall-Harris though noted that there was nothing in law that currently dealt with such matters, and it was not something that she could address until it was.

“Let me point out that I am speaking tonight from the perspective of a legal person and that is why my whole perspective has been from the Convention on the Rights of the Child which guides our law. So that is why I used what the law defines the role as to be as my yardstick. Now, because I also come from a legal standpoint, we don’t deal with things until we have to deal with things. The point is that right now our law does not deal with any kind of same sex union or relationship. We are not ready to go there,” said the lawyer.

Springer though, hinted that it could come down to an identification of the one who had the more masculine traits, even as he noted that issues like this were right on the doorstep.

Eastmond however maintained that it was known that laws and happenings in the US or Britain, had a trickle down effect to the Caribbean and by extension, Barbados.

“To say it is a legal matter, we should at this point in time prepare ourselves for when we are faced with that matter how we will deal with it and not to wait until it comes here and be like a chicken without a head,” he suggested.

Marshall-Harris stated though that since 1966 she did not believe there has been a law forced to be passed here that Barbados did not want passed. She added that even where countries were signatories to certain conventions, those conventions usually respected the culture of the country in question.

The former magistrate further stated that laws evolved when the population dared to push the envelope further or with the demand of the times and people.

Worrell said though that he believed it was the outside forces causing a shift toward acceptance of same sex unions.

“The fact of the matter is that there are children today living in households where two men are running that household. That is happening. I was told that by a homosexual. There might come a time in society where we recognise that that is a union going on and we may change our laws.

“Yes we may not be in a position where someone push us and make us change our laws, but these outside powers are very influential. There are things we want from them and they might just hold it above our heads. This is a reality. Look at how tolerant we have become as a society of same sex relationships and that in my opinion came from outside influence … the media, tv. We have been so softened up about it,” he noted.

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