Lowe sticking to his position on gender neutral laws
Not stepping down!
Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe says he is not prepared to bend over backwards to accommodate the wishes of the local gay community, which has been calling for him to resign.
Last week, in a strongly worded statement carried on the back page of Barbados TODAY’s November 19 publication, the Barbados – Gays, Lesbians, and All-Sexuals against Discrimination, otherwise known as B-GLAD, called on Lowe to demit office over suggestions that he would rather resign his ministerial position than support the passage of gender-neutral domestic violence laws.
In its press release, B-GLAD roundly condemned the Minister’s statements, describing them as not only “irresponsible and antediluvian” but also “archaic and non-progressive”. The group also suggested that recognising his position as a Minister of Parliament, Lowe should recant, saying the comments reflected “appallingly” not only on Lowe, but on Barbados as a whole.
B-GLAD also pointed to a 2013 letter it said it had received from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, in which he had vowed that his Government remained committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and had declared that it would remain dedicated “to lobbying, both regionally and internationally against discrimination against any Barbadian citizen, inclusive of those who do not conform to heteronormative societal construct”.
However, in an equally strong response to the media today, an unapologetic Lowe insisted that he was not prepared to go back on his word, while stating that, as a Christian, he could not condemn anyone.
“I stand by my word. I will not recant my conscience. My conscience is like my skin. I cannot walk away from it. So just as anybody has the right to have a gay relationship, whether it is in Barbados or they go to France, that’s their choice and that’s their right. God will be the judge. But if I say, I will not comply with any such request or practise, isn’t that my right?”
The embattled Government Minister, who has received the backing of members of the local clergy and some others on this issue, also made it clear that “the only calls for my resignation that matters is the Prime Minister’s”.
“If the Prime Minister calls me tomorrow and says, ‘I am revoking your appointment as minister of the crown’, then that would cause me concern,” he said.
“[But} if someone has freely expressed their views on how the society ought to be without any consequence and someone responds and expresses his or her view on how the society ought to be, who has committed the crime?” he asked during a press conference.
The Minister’s initial comments came in response to a discussion which had been triggered by a move within the Opposition Barbados Labour Party to have gender-neutral domestic violence legislation brought before Parliament.
A resolution to that effect was tabled by the party’s Christ Church East branch at last month’s 76th Annual Conference of the BLP, seeking to place same-sex couples on the same level as heterosexual couples in any new domestic law.
However, it aroused the ire of some members of the Mia Mottley-led party, including St George South MP Dwight Sutherland, St Michael East MP Trevor Prescod, St Michael North MP Ronald Toppin and St James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds, who reportedly came out strongly against the move when it came up at the parliamentary group level.
The move had also not gone down well with members of the Christ Church East branch in whose name the resolution was brought by the constituency’s caretaker Wilfred Abrahams.
In a letter dated November 4, 2014 to General Secretary of the BLP Dr Jerome Walcott, the branch’s executive body was adamant that the resolution was never discussed at the branch level.
“We wish to emphatically state that the branch has had no knowledge of the resolution whatsover, prior to its presentation to the conference; has absolutely not participated in any discussion, let alone any drafting of such resolution; and was totally unaware of its contents.
“On behalf of the Christ Church East branch of the BLP, we the duly elected officers of this constituency branch, having discussed these circumstances at a meeting held on Monday, November 3, 2014, formally ask that the National Executive Council of the party at its next held meeting takes note and duly records the foregoing, which deeply offends the branch procedurally as well as, by implication, suggests the branch’s acquiescence and/or support of any formal legislative recognition of non-heterosexual relationships at this time, and where there has been no engagement nor discussion on the matter.
“We further ask that this objection be formally registered as correspondence at the staging of the next annual conference of the party,” the branch executive added in its letter, which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY.