A new study has found that 92.4 per cent of homosexuals experience some form of discrimination in Barbados.
What’s more, the survey shows that 75 per cent of those who report their problems to the police are denied assistance.
The survey, entitled Examining Stigma and Discrimination Experienced by Gay Men, was carried out between October 2014 and March 2015.
Several respondents also reported that they were denied private health care, as well as housing on account of their sexual preference.
The findings were revealed today as the HIV/AIDS Commission hosted a one-day HIV discrimination meeting for men on the topic Men and HIV: Removing the Cloak of Invisibility.
Presenting the preliminary findings of the research, which was conducted among the lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and sex workers in Barbados, director of the HIV/AIDS Commission Jackie Wiltshire-Gay said despite high levels of discrimination among men who have sex with men, there was “gross under reporting” because they did not believe anything would be done about it.
“The report of denial to services needs to be certainly addressed as it has implications to the national programme’s ability to access these hard to reach populations and their corresponding willingness to use and access prevention, treatment, care and support services,” she said.
The majority of respondents, (70.7 per cent), identified sexual orientation as the general reason for the discrimination they experienced while 61.3 per cent of those surveyed said sexual orientation was the specific reason for the discrimination.
Wiltshire-Gay said 46.7 per cent of those surveyed indicated that the main source of the discrimination was from someone in the neighbourhood, 42.7 per cent said from a bystander or passerby and 37.3 per cent from a family member.
Most of the respondents, (63.8 per cent), said the discrimination took place on the road, 39.1 per cent said it happened at home while 33.3 per cent said it occurred at work.
Twenty per cent indicated that the discrimination occurred during the period of the survey and 20 per cent said it occurred within the last year preceding the survey.
In terms of what form the alleged discrimination took, at the top of the list was verbal abuse, with 82.7 per cent of those surveyed reporting that this was the type they experienced, 26.7 per cent said they were threatened and another 26.7 per cent said they experienced neglect.
Besides the denial of police assistance, 12.5 per cent said they were denied private health care, 12.5 per cent said they were denied housing and the same percentage of respondents said they were denied customer service.
Wiltshire-Gay said of the 60 per cent of respondents who chose to take action, 55.6 per cent said they responded verbally, 29.6 per cent told a friend and 18.5 per cent said they reported it to the police.
“On the other hand, those who did not take action [36 per cent] indicated their principle reason for doing so [was that they] couldn’t be bothered [45.5 per cent]; didn’t feel it would go anywhere [22.7 per cent]; and didn’t know I could do anything about it [20.5 per cent] . . . these are disturbing,”
“The fact that so many key populations opted not to take action may be indicative of a lack of awareness of individual legal and human rights and a belief based on experience – personal or observed – in the futility of seeking any redress. Efforts should be made to determine the existence of anti-discrimination policies, the extent to which these have been implemented and provide a measure of protection for key populations,” she said.
In view of the findings, Wiltshire-Gay said she was looking forward to the passage by Government of the anti-discrimination legislation next year.
She said the HIV/AIDS Commission would be “scaling up” its Know Your Rights Campaign, as well as programmes for men who have sex with men, and other public awareness promotions.
One participant, while questioning the number of individuals who said they were denied police assistance because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, cautioned officials not to get “lost in emotions”.
Of the 200 people surveyed, 80.2 per cent were Barbadians, 18.7 per cent from other Caribbean islands and 1.1 per cent from outside the region.