As pressure mounts on Barbados to repeal its buggery laws and to legalize same-sex marriages, a former magistrate and UNICEF children’s champion is openly declaring her support for having members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community (LGBT) to be able to openly serve in the Cabinet of Barbados.
While insisting that people who desire to make a contribution to the development of Barbados ought to be afforded that opportunity on merit and not be excluded because of their sexual persuasion, colour, social status or such other considerations, Faith Marshall-Harris, who is also a former coroner, argued strongly in an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning that one’s sexual preference should not be the defining qualification for entering elective politics or for being able to serve at the executive level in Government.
“Of course,” she said when asked if she supported gays in Cabinet.
“I dare say, we don’t know, but it may be that we have had persons of different orientations in Cabinet before. To me, that is not the basis on which they are there. That is not the guiding factor. The guiding factors are their particular abilities and qualities that we need to call on,” the attorney-at-law stressed.
It was only last month that international human rights organization Human Rights Watch called on Bridgetown to “end legal discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people by repealing all existing laws criminalizing same-sex conduct”.
Human Rights Watch also advised the authorities here to “pass laws defining the crime of rape in a gender-neutral way so that non-consensual sex between men or between women is included in the definition and subject to equal punishment”.
In January of this year during the United Nation Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, several countries also recommended that Barbados decriminalizes same-sex unions.
Steering clear of recommending what the administration here should do, British High Commissioner to Barbados Janet Douglas last week insisted during a courtesy call on Barbados TODAY’s Chief Executive Officer and Editor-In-Chief Kaymar Jordan that like everyone else the LGBT community had rights that should be protected.
“While we are very keen to promote human rights generally across the world including LGBT rights, we do recognize that different countries and different societies have different ways of looking at these issues,” Douglas said.
“But that doesn’t mean that we are abandoning our own position, which is that we do support the rights of LGBT people to live freely and have the same rights that other people have in any other community,” the British diplomat added.
Her position on the issue meshes somewhat with that of Marshall-Harris who is equally welcoming of reformed prostitute Natalie Natlee Harewood’s entry into the political fray as an independent candidate for The City of Bridgetown.
“Frankly right now I don’t understand the preoccupation that Barbados have with this business of whether she is an ex-prostitute or not, because to me . . . you can look at any body’s resume and pick out one thing and say it is that that disqualifies them, I don’t know.
“The point is, as far as I know, one of the disqualifications is if you have been convicted of a criminal offence. Once that is not the issue, I don’t see why that becomes part of the conversation,” said Marshall-Harris, adding that the conversation has to be about what Harewood brings to the table that can benefit Barbados.
She cited other provisions in the Constitution of Barbados which she contended should not only be considered when gays or ex-prostitutes are seeking membership in the House of Assembly.
Marshall-Harris referred to sections which stated that a person would be disqualified if they acknowledged allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign Power or State; was under sentence of death imposed by a court in any part of the Commonwealth or is serving a sentence of imprisonment exceeding six months imposed on him by such a court.
The Constitution also excludes a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law in force in Barbados; has been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Barbados and has not been discharged; having been convicted or reported guilty of any corrupt or illegal practice at elections; or having been convicted of making a false declaration of qualification for election.