The local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community says this weekend’s ‘Pride March’ is not just about gay rights, but also seeks to highlight the plight facing women, the disabled, Rastafari and other marginalized groups.
“We march with the understanding that other marginalized groups need voices as well. For too long women have not been given the recognition that they deserve for their contribution to the social landscape of Barbados and have been abused, raped and killed. This Pride March is for women too,” said the director of Barbados – Gays, Lesbians and All-sexuals against Discrimination Donnya Piggott.
In a statement today, the prominent gay rights activist also pointed out that “the disabled community in Barbados constantly has to navigate around poor infrastructure unsuitable to their needs and lack of opportunities for them to live productive lives, adding that “this march is for the disabled too”.
She further argued that religious minorities were not exempt from marginalization, with Rastafarians still fighting for equal treatment under the law.
“[Therefore] this Pride March is for religious minorities too,” Piggott stressed.
Sunday’s march, which has been billed as a walk, not only for equality and inclusion, but to celebrate diversity, comes against the backdrop of strong concerns raised by local church leaders about what they see as an attempt by members of the LGBT community to force their agenda on the society.
In fact, during an hour-long press briefing at the New Testament Church on Thursday, the group of approximately 20 leaders, led by Apostle Eliseus Joseph, the senior pastor of Apostolic Teaching Centre, accused LGBT people of trying to bully Barbadians into adopting the gay lifestyle.
“This is a classic definition of bullying. A small segment of the population wants to bully us into accepting their values and norms,” Joseph charged, while adding that “whatever they want to do that is their business, but don’t impose it on our population, don’t impose it on our children. That is bullying. We as a nation, we oppose bullying”.
However, without any reference to the church leaders’ press conference, Piggott was insistent today that “the Barbadian LGBTQ community is just as committed to the development of Barbados as the rest of the population and continues to contribute to all spheres of Barbadian life and development.
“We want Barbados to thrive and live up to its fullest potential. Needless to say we need be treated as equal citizens, included and recognized,” she said, while pointing out that “for as long as we can remember lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people have been treated as secondary citizens when we contribute equally to our country and our society.
“We have been bullied in our schools, denied promotions at work, neglected and sidelined by family, verbally abused on the streets and event attacked in our neighbourhoods,” Piggott added.
Sunday’s march brings to an end pride month, observed here for the first time ever.