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EDITORIAL: Tug o’ war between culture and freedom


marciadottin, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Tug o’ war  between culture  and freedom

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IN RECENT TIMES the issue of homosexuality just wouldn’t go away. It seems as though it is always in one’s face.
Last week a visiting professor of law at the Cave Hill campus lecture at the University of the West Indies made a strong case for its decriminalisation.
Professor Robert Wintemute, while giving a lecture titled: Lesbian And Gay Human Rights In The Caribbean: Would Decriminalisation Restrict Religious Freedom?, said the criminal laws of Barbados should be changed because they were outdated and violated the American Convention on Human Rights.
This issue is a very contentious one in Barbados and in many African states. Perhaps it has strong cultural undertones but it should be noted that Barbadians have been generally tolerant of homosexuality provided it is kept within the bounds of decency.
There are still laws against buggery on our statute books but are mainly applied in the case of children. Homosexuality is not a crime in and of itself and there have not been many reported threats of violence against anyone in the gay community.
There is considerable local and international support for this lobby and it is being couched and defended on the issue of human rights. This is why it has become more fashionable and is difficult to ignore.
The tension is also seen in the case of the right to life versus abortion rights.
In 2011 there was much furore when the United Kingdom and United States governments suggested that international aid may be withdrawn from those countries that did not respect gay rights and refused to remove homosexual laws from their statute books.
In the United States, President Barack Obama has given active support to the gay and lesbian lobby who have given him solid support in his election campaigns. He has couched his support in terms of human rights but was held hostage to their demands. Last year Mr Obama, on an African tour, called on African governments to give gay people equal rights by decriminalising homosexual acts which are still a crime in 38 African countries, where most people hold conservative religious views.
Nevertheless, Mr Obama believed that while different customs and religions should be respected, the law should treat everybody equally. He said he welcomed the US Supreme Court’s decision last June to strike down a law that denied the recognition of same-sex marriages.
The ruling was a “victory for American democracy and a proud day for equal rights”, he said. The Church of England recently said it would ordain homosexual priests who have taken vows of abstinence. So we are coming full circle, albeit slowly.
This issue even threatened the Winter Olympics in Russia which passed new laws last year aimed at banning “gay propaganda” aimed at children under 18 years old.
While there is a natural fear of that which is different, it’s the 21st century and we should focus on how to make our lives better.

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