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Griffith:  Gays are people too

Sanka Price

Griffith:  Gays are  people too

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GAY WOMEN AND prostitutes are women too and should not be discriminated against, says social worker George Griffith.
And he called on the leaders of women’s groups to acknowledge the presence of these women in society and speak out on issues affecting them as well.
“There is a glaring omission in recognition of these women. There are not to be the butt of jokes or snide remarks . . . . There are people too with an intrinsic worth and dignity which should be respected,” said Griffith, the executive director of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA).
Speaking on the commemoration of International Women’s Day last Saturday, he charged that women who were recognised and described as being gay here were ostracised and that was why those who purported to speak on behalf of women did not recognise them publicly.
“These women to a large extent are voiceless, faceless, nameless and are forced to live in the shadows and fringes of society.”
Griffith said each year one could predict what was going to be said and by whom, and mainstream Barbados was targeted while ignoring a growing minority of women who were no less worthy or whose contribution was no less important.
“The society is not made up of all heterosexuals. There are homosexuals in Barbados, and it is really an insult to 21st century Barbados that so many leaders in society in the women’s movement persistently ignore that persons in same-sex unions are an integral part of this society. There are no less capable of making a contribution to the development of Barbados . . . . We have to embrace them.
“Gay women are people too. They are our sisters, aunts, mothers sometimes, and they have a right to express themselves sexually in the same way that those of us who are heterosexual do,” the veteran social worker said.
He added that those women who worked as prostitutes often did this as it was their only means of survival to support their children, and would otherwise be living on the streets.
“These are women who are mothers as well. We need to include them,” said Griffith, explaining the international family planning movement recognised diversity.
The BPFA head said if Barbados wanted to say it was a developed society, based on the principles of freedom and democracy, it could not consistently ignore this sector in society because homosexuality was a way of life for some people in Barbados.
“If you discriminate against people on race, the society will come down on you like a ton of bricks. But you discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and there is a deafening silence in the society . . . and they all have fundamental rights we have to respect.”
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