Could our gay community be in overkill?
Let it be stated upfront that we do not hold the view that heterosexuals should be protected from violence by law, convention or custom, but non-heterosexuals should not be –– whether such savagery manifests itself in the community or among intimate unions. We aver, to boot, domestic violence is no greater or lesser an evil by nature than any other common personal assault.
And, we suggest it is highly unlikely that in Barbados the police –– for all the evidence there is –– will not arrest and charge an accused with murder merely because the victim is a gay man, lesbian, trans-sexual, all-sexual or whatever other carnal orientation might present itself. The slain’s sexual practices will only be a sidebar to the more grievous situation of homicide.
So, the Gays, Lesbians, And All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD) group (and its advisors, adherents and supporters) may be in overkill mode in their rally for special mention –– and reference to –– in proposed law amendments relating to “domestic violence”.
At face value, B-GLAD’s mostly well articulated response to Minister of Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe’s pledge to quit the Cabinet before supporting any “gender-neutral” legislation in respect of domestic violence is at worst a significant contribution to a storm in a teacup, and at best an opportunity for this nation of ours to be rid of the overseer of one of the worst periods of sanitation and garbage collection management ever.
Dr Lowe within the last five or six years has cultivated the habit of silence, making only baffling and at best ephemeral statements when forced to speak on matters of our habitat. But in the case of the “gender-neutral legislation” debate, we wager he was spirited by his religious convictions –– which are his, legitimately and conscientiously, to have and to hold.
The Minister of the Environment has every right to distance himself from anything that goes against his conscience, and therefore is not bound to be in concert with fellow minister Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo’s earlier assurance of Government’s implementation of domestic violence legislation recognizing “the realities of existing relationship dynamics within the country” –– namely, man-on-man and woman-on-woman unions and longed for same-sex marriages.
B-GLAD’s call for Dr Lowe, as a Member of Parliament, to “recant his irresponsible and antediluvian” position, or resign forthwith is therefore unreasonable and illogical –– especially when the Prime Minister is said by B-GLAD itself to have given the undertaking in a letter last year to the group that his Government remained committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, and that he himself stood “dedicated to lobbying, both regionally and internationally, against discrimination against any Barbadian citizen, inclusive of those who do not conform to heteronormative societal construct”.
We may conclude from this that while Mr Stuart may give Dr Lowe his equally silent and firm backing in our current national sanitation challenges, the Minister of the Environment may expect no such succour to his feelings on matters of non-heteronormative relationships.
As we have indicated already, no matter our position on the practice of homosexuality, we abhor domestic violence of any kind, whether it be in same-sex relationships –– which some of us may be morally or socially uncomfortable with –– or heterosexual ones. Human abuse is inexcusable, and this needs to be underscored other than by identification of groups and subgroups necessarily.
Out of this burning debate though is still unfortunately projected the notion that “heteronormative” Barbadians hate their homosexual brothers and sisters. We proffer that this is hardly the case generally. People may have a dislike for the act of homosexuality, as it is not their preference –– much as normal sexual intercourse is not that of B-GLAD members.
Whatever our sexual position or taste –– or dilemma –– may be, it is essentially private and personal, and the persistent lobbying by the well known and not so well known on radio weekly, and the constant reference to non-B-GLAD members as being backward, archaic and non-progressive, do little to strengthen the societal tolerance, acceptance and respect already in place for members of the gay community.
A recent CADRES report is said to show that eight to 16 per cent of Barbadians are non-heterosexual –– though other claims are that the percentage is well below ten per cent. Whatever the case, it is no overwhelming number to interact with. We think that whatever personal views Barbadians generally have held about homosexuals, lesbians or transgenders, they have for the most part accepted their roles in and contributions to society.
We have known them to be in high places and low. To be more high-profile and distinct, the non-heterosexual groups among us need not be confrontational. Homosexuals have been moving among us for years now, freely and safely –– and with gay abandon, so to speak!
May it remain so.