EDITORIAL: Straight talk needed on same-sex
A person who is assaulted by the individual with whom they are in a relationship is a victim of domestic violence.
It does not matter if the perpetrator is of the opposite sex or the same sex as the victim. The fact that one person was battered by another with whom they are intimately involved is what constitutes domestic violence.
As a Christian society, providing the medical and psychological attention the victim needs to make a wholesome recovery should be our primary concern.
We should also have policies in place to deal effectively with the abuser so that they would understand such behaviour is not appropriate, and will not be tolerated.
These thoughts helped to inform our view on the need for gender-neutral legislation on domestic violence here.
As we see it, the fundamental issue is protecting a vulnerable person against violence from their partner, whether the abuser is of the opposite or same sex as the victim.
As such, we viewed the declaration from Minister of Environment Dr Denis Lowe that he would resign his position before he ever co-signs gender-neutral legislation, for the politicking that it was.
The suggestion that any legislation brought on domestic violence or spousal abuse should take into consideration relationships between all parties (male and female or same-sex) living with each other in the same household as “husband and wife”, came from his constituency opponent, Senator Wilfred Abrahams.
And with most Barbadians uncomfortable with gay relationships, Lowe was on solid political ground to be adamant that same-sex couples could never be “husband and wife” and should not be treated as such.
Lowe, though, is too intelligent to misunderstand the thrust of such legislation, which globally is being accepted as the way forward to address violence in same-sex relationships.
Also, we are sure that as a minister of Government he would never officially advocate discrimination against any Barbadian based on their sexual orientation as his statement implied.
As such, we saw Lowe’s statement for the storm in the teacup that it was, but felt a national discussion was needed to explain why the time to consider such laws had come.
We are more convinced this is needed given the Child Care Board (CCB) deputy director’s recent revelation that many children are being confused by their parents’ involvement in same-sex relationships and were acting up at school. And an acting magistrate’s concerns on Thursday.
The CCB’s Denise Nurse said: “Family is now man and man. Family is woman and woman. Family has changed. Family is no longer man and wife anymore, so children are coming to school confused.”
And while presiding in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court, Alliston Seale said: “Too many . . . relationships whether it be man, woman, child, boy, girl, two men, two girls – whatever – [are] resulting in injury to one of the parties and we have to at least do what we can in the circumstances to protect the individuals.”
Clearly an informed national conversation is urgently needed to educate Barbadians on gender-neutral domestic violence laws to take it out of adversarial politics.