Youth parliament leader steps down over gay position
The National Youth Parliament Friday lost its prime minister after Government intervened in a debate on LGBT rights.
The resolution was drafted by the young parliamentarians to reflect their concerns about discrimination – in particular that which affects members of the gay community.
However, an 11th hour change was made to the draft measure by officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, which has oversight over the youth parliament, forcing a 15-minute delay to this morning’s 10:45 a.m. debate in the Senate.
Calling it the final straw, prime minister Roshanna Trim announced her resignation at the conclusion of the over two-hour long sitting.
“When you decide to ask the young people to have a say and believe that it is okay to disregard what they have put forward and disrespect their ideas and disrespect their hard work [to the point] where persons couldn’t give their contributions today, I have a fundamental problem as the prime minister of the youth parliament with that,” she said in a delivering a parting jab at the authorities.
Trim, whose comments were met with strong expressions of support from her colleagues, said while she enjoyed serving in the leadership role, she felt it was important for her as a young Barbadian to take a stand.
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything as a result,” she said to loud thumping of the desks in the Upper Chamber.
Barbados TODAY obtained a copy of the original resolution, as well as the amended draft that was eventually debated and was able to confirm that all references to “LGBT” were omitted.
The developments drew an immediate response from President of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination Donnya Piggott who told Barbados TODAY it was unfortunate that LGBT references were taken out of the youth parliament bill.
She also applauded Trim for her stance on the matter, while stating that today’s failed attempt to debate LBGT rights was another example of “how people in power tend to cover up and throw a blanket over issues that need specific attention”.
The omitted section of the resolution referred to members of the LGBT community as a vulnerable demographic who face “extreme risk of gender based violence”, particularly rape, sexual violence and harassment. It also made reference to materials used to teach sexual education in schools, saying they ignored the emergence of LGBT relationships and corresponding sexual activities.
The young parliamentarians had also raised concern under the resolution that numerous human rights violations were committed against members of the LGBT community with a view to suppressing or even silencing their voice.
During today’s debate, one young parliamentarian also took issue with recent comments made by Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley against gay marriage.
“I do not think that our law should be changed to accommodate immoral behaviour or tell our young people a story that is not based on how they should behave.
“How do we tell our young people that it is OK to be gay and to aspire to be in a [gay] marriage?” Lashley had asked.
In a strongly worded response, Independent Youth Senator Ade’ O’neal accused Lashley of perpetuating “bigotry, malice and hate”.
Speaking in the Upper Chamber, O’neal also suggested that Lashley’s statements not only went against the Constitution of Barbados, which safeguards the rights of all citizens, but also ran contrary to the National Strategic Plan of the Democratic Labour Party administration.
“I am sure the minister is aware of this strategic plan because he sits in the Cabinet of this country. So I am almost certain that the minister would not make such utterances public again in the future because he will be breaking from the policy of his own administration, and should therefore resign,” the outspoken youth said.
When contacted this evening, Lashley said he was unaware of Friday’s developments with the youth parliament and declined comment on the matter.