Minister of Education Ronald Jones has come in for high praise from members of the local gay and lesbian community, following the call he made in Parliament earlier this week for Barbadians to be more accepting of homosexuality.
Veteran gay activist Darcy Dear and Executive Director of the Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-sexuals Against Discrimination Donnya Piggott are both singing the minister’s praises following the comments made during debate on the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill 2016 in the House of Assembly on Tuesday.
In making his contribution to the debate, Jones said the country must accept that domestic violence did not only occur in heterosexual relationships, but also in same sex unions.
“I want persons in this country to understand that it is no longer a situation of domestic abuse of male on female, or female on male . . . but today, with contemporary lifestyles it might very well be female on female and male on male,” the minister stated.
“This country lives with a certain level of hypocrisy. So now that we are pulling out of the shadows the violence within heterosexual relationships, we need to pull out of the shadows as well, the violence, domestic as it is, [in gay relationships].
“We’ve heard too many stories and seen some evidence, some persons ‘catspraddled’ by 2×3’s across their shoulders and ending up in the casualty of our hospital. We have seen men chopped by other men . . . .The shadows must disappear with these relationships that exist,” Jones argued.
In welcoming the comments, Piggott said it was an attempt to right the wrongs of a broken society, pointing out that the LGBT community make up a sizable part of the Barbadian populace and play a significant role in many different spheres of society.
“We face discrimination of various forms and it has manifested itself in many different ways,” Piggott argued, noting, “according to the HIV/AIDS Commission statistics over 85 per cent of LGBT people have faced some form of discrimination.
Piggott also referred to a CADRES survey, which showed that members of the LGBT community make up around 17 per cent of the Barbadian population.
“We feel it is best to simply protect LGBT people from discrimination by law,” said Piggott, suggesting, “Let’s work together and make this a reality by including sexual orientation and gender identity in Barbados’ Constitution where we can be protected from discrimination by law. That’s certainly not too much to ask.”
Meanwhile, Dear said Jones’ comments was “historic” since other politicians viewed the issue of acceptance for gays as taboo.
The outspoken homosexual said it was important for Barbadians in general to realize that gay people “ain’t going nowhere and they are part of the fabric of all societies of this world.
“And I hope that more ministers, church leaders, anybody would speak out. This is a sign of good things to come for the gay community in Barbados as it shows that they are catching up with other communities in other parts of the world,” he said.
Dear also warned Jones that he must have a broad back to handle the criticisms from members of the community who may want to lash out at him for taking such a stance.
“He has to be strong and he is on the right track. I was very happy to hear that and not for me Darcy Dear but for those young people that are going to school and have their identities to deal with.
“And as the minister responsible for education that weighs even heavier because there are young gay people in the schools with issues that need to be spoken to,” Dear said.
Dear also expressed hope that like Jones, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart would publicly state his position on the issue.
“It can only be good for Barbados as a whole because Mr Jones, myself and others don’t have as long to live as they live already.
“And everybody is talking about the future and the future is the youth. Whether you be gay, straight or crooked you are apart of the future,” he told Barbados TODAY.