Barbadians are being accused of having a mindset towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) community that predates the biblical flood, but which is costing the island key resources.
LGBTI advocate Alexa Hoffmann said that the country was losing a talented sub section of its society who were seeking refuge abroad due to continuous discrimination and violence here.
While providing no statistics to back up the claim, Hoffmann told the launch of this year’s Barbados Pride Weekend that the level of discrimination had reached intolerable levels.
“Over the years there has been an exodus of LGBTI persons from Barbados due to stigma, discrimination and violence, and it has 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,” Hoffmann said at the Canadian High Commission.
“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,” she stressed.
However, the Barbados Pride Weekend coordinator said Barbadians should be comforted by the fact that the level of attacks were fewer here than in other Caribbean countries such as Jamaica.
Still, she said abuse was commonplace among the LGBT community, with many victims choosing to stay silent until they were “near crisis point”.
“Ultimately, the turmoil was severe enough to make them [victims] feel unsafe in the country where they were born, raised, and which endowed them with constitutionally entrenched and inalienable rights,” she said.
“Transgender persons are not fully understood in Barbados and visibility is often murky, and few have the emotional fortitude to make the necessary moves to improve the overall visibility of the transgender community here. Nevertheless, abuse is abuse, whether inflicted upon a gay or bisexual man or woman, or a transgender man or woman, and every effort must be taken to stamp it out, whether or not our lawmakers wish to co-operate with us,” Hoffmann said.
Also speaking at the launch which coincided with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Canadian High Commissioner Marie Legault, endorsed the initiative saying, “We need to ensure that no one is left behind. We need to ensure that everybody is granted the fundamental right to participate fully in society and to be included and accepted no matter what is one’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.
The campaign for the 16 Days of Activism is themed Leave No One Behind: end violence against women and girls. Legault, in her speech, said that through this initiative the Canadian High Commission was “advocating for . . . an end to laws, violence and discrimination around the world”.