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LGBTIs: Treat us as equals

JOHN SEALY, [email protected]

LGBTIs: Treat us as equals

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Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) population in Barbados are not being accepted as normal citizens in their own country.

And some of them are leaving the island to be more at home in other countries.

This is the position of transgender advocate and director of Trans Advocacy & Agitation Barbados, Alexa D. V. Hoffmann, as she spoke at a ceremony to launch Barbados Pride Weekend 2017 to mark today’s start of the UN 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence at the High Commission of Canada.

Hoffmann said yesterday that the community faced many challenges being accepted and treated equally as contributing members of their respective societies.  

“Most, if not all, Barbadians, have at some point felt alone, isolated or less than worthy. For LGBTI Barbadians, homophobia and transphobia compound our sense of ‘otherness’ and/or ‘worthlessness’. In recent years, pride celebrations have been portrayed as simply one massive high-energy party, with little acknowledgment of the history of emotional turmoil that they are meant to confront, said Hoffmann. 

Barbadians, she said, were quick to say the island had not recorded the same level of anti-LGBTI violence as other parts of the region. 

“However, in my five years as an activist and advocate, I have had LGBTI friends and associates almost break down telling me about the homophobic and transphobic abuse that they face on an almost daily basis. 

“For many the abuse is so commonplace, from name-calling to physical attacks, that they don’t bother to speak about them until they are near crisis point. And ultimately, the turmoils were severe enough to make them feel unsafe in the country where they were born, raised, and which endowed them with constitutionally entrenched and inalienable rights.”

She said there had been an exodus of LGBTI persons from Barbados due to stigma, discrimination and violence, and it had now reached such an extent that,  “I fear if our country does not extricate itself from this antediluvean fixation on an individual’s personal life, it will prove to be a great economical woodworm in the future. 

“Too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with much to offer, which could help build our economy and raise our country to new heights, are being chased away from us, and when they have flourished to their full potential and ability, Barbados is unable to benefit because that flourish has occurred in another country, for the benefit of another society.” (JS)

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