One of Barbados’ senior Ministers said calls to end LGBTI criminalization made him feel ‘marginalized, harassed and stigmatized’.
Minister of Social Care and Community Development Steve Blackett was addressing a government party meeting in the eastern Caribbean nation when he made the comments.
Blackett warned same-sex marriage would never happen in Barbados, sending a clear message to the ‘external forces and internal forces’ advocating for marriage equality.
Despite having some of the strictest anti-sodomy laws in the world, Blackett said Barbados was tolerant of the LGBTI community.
‘If you want to be same-sex, that’s your business… nothing wrong with that at all. Barbados has always been tolerant to homosexuals among us,’ Blackett said according to a report in Barbados Today.
‘They are our relatives, our family or friends, our kith and kin, our hairdressers, our tailors…Same-sex relationships in most neighbourhoods are nothing new.’
But their ongoing campaigning for equal rights was making Blackett uncomfortable.
‘This LGBT lobby is so insistent, so persistent, claiming this community is being marginalized and stigmatized,’ he said.
‘They have been so insistent and persistent that I, as a straight person, you as a straight person, we’re beginning to feel marginalized, harassed and stigmatized by them.’
LGBTI people have long featured in Barbados’ culture, but same-sex marriage was more recent concept.
‘What is new, though, is an attempt to transpose and to transplant a foreign culture into Barbados called same-sex marriage,’ he said.
‘Now that is what I have a problem with. We must also watch this creeping attempt to offend and insult our moral sensitivities here in Barbados.’
Nowhere is safe
A recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report found the LGBTI people exist in the eastern Caribbean and lead productive lives. But the face a lot of discrimination and violence, and are not safe in places such as their homes or church.
Jason (not his real name) is a 40-year-old man from Barbados. He told HRW the crushing impact of living in a homophobic country where you can’t be your real self.
‘People don’t understand how much pressure it is not to be your true authentic self and how that is such a mental strain – to the point where that is so detrimental to you as a person,’ he said Jason.
‘It hinders our education opportunities, and work opportunities and taking part in your community.’