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EDITORIAL: Don’t force LGBT position on society


EDITORIAL: Don’t force LGBT position on society

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THAT BARBADOS IS a homophobic society is simply not true. That the rights of its lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are under threat is but a myth. They are in no greater danger of harm than any other segment of the society. So the impression given and message being spread abroad by a few members of this community of a climate of fear and repression in this island is most unfortunate.

Barbados is a tolerant society given the way members of the LGBT community have been able to coexist for many years. Like many societies, most members of this minority group have lived in a closet, simply because their sexual orientation was not in keeping with the accepted customs.

Admittedly, the world’s more developed countries have changed dramatically in recently years as it relates to same-sex relationships and transgender issues, and this will undoubtedly have a cascading effect on the entire world. But, this country is still a society where traditional family values are deeply rooted and it will take some time before society openly accepts and makes legal some of the new norms adopted elsewhere.

This island has a history of acceptance as is evident with members of minority religious faiths and  ethnic groups. Yes, there is undoubtedly mistrust, anger and hate exhibited by some in the society against those with differences, whether in appearance, outlook, sexual orientation or even physical disabilities. Fortunately, such behaviour is not institutionalised or condoned. This is why the report of a number of Barbadian LGBT nationals seeking asylum in North America and Europe out of fear of persecution is nothing short of shocking.

What is an issue is that no segment of the society must enforce its views and positions on the other. We appreciate that members of the LGBT community will be strident to assert their rights and end any discrimination, but this must be done with respect for our conventions.

No one would want members of the local LGBT community to live in a closet or more importantly, in constant fear for their very well-being. What we must do is to ensure that our workforce is sensitised on how to deal with members of the LGBT community in a professional and humane manner. What must end immediately is the stigmatisation which is certainly a norm with LGBT people. But as is the case with mental health illness, AIDS and even disabilities, reaching out to accept LBGT people cannot be legislated.

This is why the push for emphatic change will have to be led by our political parties who can longer keep it off their agendas. The positions they take will send a clear message locally and overseas.

But the LGBT community must not attempt to force their position on society nor taint it unfairly. Unfortunately, many of the troubling issues encountered by this group often emanate from within their own community.