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Capital of the Bahamas safe for LGBTI tourists, says local activist

Capital of the Bahamas safe for LGBTI tourists, says local activist

A beach in Nassau

For many countries, 3,300 LGBTI tourists shopping and sightseeing in the capital is not a big deal.

But for one Bahmanian LGBTI rights activist, it is a highly encouraging sign for Nassau.

Alexus D’Marco hopes that this is symbolic of her country is making slow but steady progress in becoming more LGBTI-friendly.

D’Marco is optimistic that the revenue from LGBTI tourism will help combat homophobia throughout the country.

‘Some of the tourists we spoke to they said they felt comfortable,’ D’Marco told local newspaper, Tribune242.

‘They saw the police and they felt better when they saw us, people who they could identify with greeting them. So there was a better sense of security.’

‘Tourism is something that everybody understands’

D’Marco highlighted the importance of the tourism sector in building acceptance and combatting homophobia in the Caribbean island.

‘The thing about it is when it relates to tourism I think business is something that everybody understands and commerce is something that every country needs,’ D’Marco said.

‘If we understand the effects of tourism and what we have to offer such as hospitality, sun, sand and sea, we’re competing on a whole different market. Other countries offer sun, sand and sea and so our product has to be a little different,’ she added.

‘So if we can keep that up with all tourists and get away from being this country that don’t allow LGBT tourists, we are creating a shift in perception.’

The growing acceptance of LGBTI rights in countries around the world has fostered a booming LGBTI tourism industry.

Current estimates put the global market of LGBTI tourism at around $220 billion per annum.

Widespread homophobia

Despite the work of LGBTI rights groups, homophobia remains widespread in the Bahamas.

The Christian-majority country is home to highly influential conservative religious groups that teach that homosexuality is decadent and sinful.

In 2017, a gay American tourist was badly beaten in a homophobic attack at a carnival.

Two assailants attacked Adrian Brown unprovoked with a bottle and a rock. They also verbally abused him with homophobic slurs. He sustained lacerations to his head.

In late December 2018, the Canadian government issued a warning that LGBTI tourists should be wary of visiting the Bahamas where ‘homosexual­ity is not widely accepted’.