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    May 21

  • 04:16 AM

BC'S B'DOS: It's human rights!

B.C. Pires,

Added 12 December 2011

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In nailing the bare truth of gay rights last Tuesday (International Human Rights Day), American Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also, by contrast, put the last nail in the coffin of Barbados’ international reputation. Mrs Clinton’s correct assertion that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” laid bare Barbadian commentators, pastors and politicians, who have spent the last fortnight denouncing homosexuality and, en passant, making Barbados look barbaric. To make it even worse, Bajan commentators are proud of their bigotry; they haven’t even learned to copy the white supremacists and declare that some of their best friends are homos. Their unlearned, Old Testament-inspired hatred packaged as “preserving the Bajan way of life” is simply embarrassing. The last time such unilateral dismissal of a community’s humanity represented “the Bajan way of life“ was 200 years ago, when some of us could unilaterally declare the worth of the rest of us, and black people then, like GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) people today, were denied equal rights, and for the same reason: they were/are (deemed to be) inferior. Most reprehensibly, the bit in the speech that most directly addresses Bajan concerns is the one where she sounds like she’s talking to children, and must patiently explain that, no, being gay doesn’t mean being a paedophile, and, no, you can’t catch homosexuality. It makes us look foolish; and our pious assumption of the role of “protecting God’s wishes” makes us look superstitious and foolish. Even if the “faith community” has persuaded itself it is doing God’s work by stoning adulterers and lesbians, they cannot be allowed to treat GLBT people differently. In a civilized place, no one can use belief, no matter how fervently held, to discriminate against others; if you could, fundamentalist Muslims could properly commit “honour rape”. It might surprise some people, but Barbados is no more a Christian country today than it is a slaving one. For me, the best part of Mrs Clinton’s compassionate and conciliatory speech was the line: “Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality.” That pinpoints the central issue and underlines the Bajan attitude as inhumane. The West did not suddenly create homosexuality: it recognized, after years of struggle and suffering, that to deny the rights of GLBT people was no different from denying the rights of black people; or female or Catholic or Islamic people. GLBT people are different, yes; but that is no justification for depriving them of their humanity or their human rights, the way we did black people. Half a century ago, black Bajans began emigrating to Britain and were horrified by the prejudice of the supposed humans they encountered. Signs declared, No Blacks, as shamelessly as pastors and politicians today shout: “No Buggers.” The repeal of laws that could be used against GLBT people is not a gay issue, it is a human rights issue, just as the abolition of slavery was not a racist, but a human rights one. Black Bajans should feel in their bone marrow how unfair it is to apply unthinking prejudice to others. A hundred years from now, what will our descendants think of us?

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