B-GLAD says that's what its members keep facing
A just released report on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Barbados has found that “deep-rooted oppression” stills exists in the country, posing a danger to members. The 19-page document The State Of LGBT Barbados: A Brief Overview was made public on the weekend by the Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD).
It was released at an event at the Courtyard By Marriott where a video documentary VOICES –– Speaking Out was also screened. In that documentary several members of the community came out and stated their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“LGBT Barbadians face a level of discrimination which can be best described as covert oppression; hard to pinpoint but evident to all,” according to the document, parts of which were read by Ro-Ann Mohammed, co-director of B-GLAD.
“There exists no law to protect the members of the LGBT population from the stigma and discrimination which they endure,” the document stated, while noting the clear contradiction within the Constitution as it related to discrimination.
Explaining that victims of “severe homophobia and transphobia” were usually of lower socioeconomic standing, the study pointed to numerous incidents dating as far back as 2002 where members were attacked because of their lifestyle. At the same time, it found that those in Barbados “do not largely suffer from violent hate crimes on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, stigma and discrimination towards the LGBT population is often manifested in the forms of property damage, ostracism and verbal abuse from strangers and family alike, unjustified denial of employment, denial of housing, rejection and abandonment [by] family, friends and the wider society at large”.
According to the study, most members of the LGBT community do not report matters to the police out of fear of “negative repercussions or facing ridicule”.
“. . . A large majority of these do go unreported, also taking into consideration the fact that absolutely no law exists within the Barbados Constitution protecting citizens from crime that are committed against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” B-GLAD insisted.
Describing current legislation on the law books as “archaic” and “harshly unequal and homophobic rhetoric”, the study referenced Government’s stance on the issue, including recent assertion by Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe, who was adamant he would not support any gender-neutral legislation. It accused Barbados of being in violation of Article 11 of the Inter-American Convention On Human Rights by maintaining its stance on buggery and serious indecency.
“Barbados’ legislation is also actively in violation of the Universal Declaration On Human Rights, whose principles Prime Minister Freundel Stuart agreed to uphold in 2013,” the document stated.
Marissa Griffith, one of the participants in the video documentary said publicly declaring her sexual orientation was a tough but necessary step.
“This is important; very, very important. It is very scary; extremely, extremely scary; but it’s important; and I feel like it’s going to get very, very difficult; but it’s going to be worth it,” she said. “I think for the next couple of months the more people see this, the more difficult life is going to be for the persons who participated in the video. But if nobody ever gets on TV and says ‘I am gay’, well, nobody is ever going to be able to walk the streets comfortably and be gay.
“It is going to be hard. It is very difficult, and it’s going to get more difficult; but it is very important.”
The video project, which B-GLAD says highlights injustices against gender and sexual minorities throughout the country, was funded by the British High Commission.
“Some of the issues included in the documentary are abandonment [by] parents, trouble with self-acceptance, job discrimination and homeless,” the group stated. It explained that the project sought to sensitize and educate residents about “the social ills the LGBT community faces in the hope of [achieving] behaviour change towards the LGBT community”.