Any steps to remove the crime of buggery from the country’s Sexual Offences Act will be done at the detriment of the Mia Mottley administration, local religious leaders have warned.
This position appears to have the backing of dozens of citizens who supported a mass meeting at Bay Street on Sunday night where they aired their disagreement and disgust with the local Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) movement.
The LGBTI community, took its own defiant stance as activists sprinkled throughout the large crowd, persisted with placards and rainbow flags in defence of their right to “love freely”.
Christian lawyers, preachers, and social workers boldly stood on the mounted podium under the theme Understand… then take a stand aimed at “exposing” the social, religious and political implications posed if existing legal challenges to buggery laws are successful.
Chairman of the Family, Faith and Freedom Barbados group Pastor Paul Leacock predicted if left unaddressed, same-sex couples would be allowed to marry as well as to adopt and raise children, ultimately threatening the traditional home which ought to be headed by a male and female.
“We are at risk if we foolishly go along with this. Therefore we want to say to this Government which has been given this mandate from God of an overwhelming majority…that it should use its power for good,” urged Leacock.
While admitting the country’s buggery laws are often left unenforced, Leacock said any removal would open the floodgates for proponents of same-sex marriage to bring their cases before the courts.
“Barbados cannot sustain what we are seeing across the landscape of the developed countries and in this case we are seeing that there is an effort to impose the homosexual agenda from those who stand behind this movement and we are not dealing with just persons who have a preference of lifestyle, but we are seeing a vibrant and aggressive movement that will unravel the sociological structure of the country, that will definitely impact the moral turpitude of the country and will lead us into areas that we cannot sustain,” he added.
But as church members enjoyed their evening of anti-gay activism, an opposition protestor began walking through the crowd.
“Preach love, not hate!” He shouted while carrying a placard with a similar message.
The emotional protester, a gay man, told Barbados TODAY: “I have been abused and I have been targeted all because of who I am….This [Christian rally] is a movement to create more and more hate.
“I am very conscious of it, which is one of the reasons I prefer my photo not be taken.
I have been targeted on numerous occasions… I have been physically, verbally and emotionally attacked. You all do not know the pain of being a homosexual and how targeted you are,” he said.
When asked about the protester’s concerns, Pastor Leacock indicated such problems were rarely faced by the local LGBTI community.
“There is no evidence that Barbadians are harassing or perpetrating acts of violence against these persons. Has it happened? Yes, but we cannot assume that it happens simply because that maybe his lifestyle,” said the pastor, while adding that he would love to counsel the gentleman and assist with his pain and suffering. He stressed the rally was not against persons like him but against movements seeking to change laws.
Among the familiar faces of LGBTI activism in Barbados were Roann Mohammed and outspoken transgender-woman Alexa Hoffman who, in July this year joined the Inter American Court of Human Rights challenging sections 9 and 12 of the Sexual Offences Act that effectively criminalise all forms of same-sex intimacy with maximum penalties of life in imprisonment.
In addition, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) led by Kenita Placide last week announced it was mounting challenges in the courts of Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St. Lucia to challenge those countries’ “colonial” and “draconian” buggery laws.
Hoffman, Director of Trans-Advocacy and Agitation Barbados said after receiving a flyer about Sunday’s mass meeting, it was clear some anti-LGBT messages would be propagated.
The transwoman dismissed much of the information provided on Sunday night as inaccurate and “deliberately twisted” but expressed fear that Christians would take aggressive steps against the local LGBTI community if its leaders had their way.
“I am asking myself if these organisations were to have their way and Christian sovereignty were to rule supreme and everything was based on Christian doctrine, what would they really be looking to do to the LGBT community? What would they be looking to do to me as an openly trans woman?” asked Hoffman.
“That is where I become very concerned and that is why I feel the need for LGBT persons and advocates to come to these rallies, stand in solidarity and say we are here. When you [Christians] are there advocating, remember that we are in the room and what you wish to advocate will ultimately impact on us and we want to know exactly where we stand with you, not just in terms of your opinions, but in terms of your policies and what you would wish to do with your policies where we are concerned.”
Pastor Leacock, however, went a step further, indicating that in his opinion, the transgender community represented one of the most serious threats to society. He argued that the rise of transgender populations has resulted in children as young as eight years demanding surgical changes to their bodies based on how they are feeling.
“As soon as we begin to change laws that will have an impact on changing our bodies biologically, we are running into a situation that we cannot control and to which there is no determinant destination except disaster,” he argued.
Leacock said he was also concerned about reports from workers in law enforcement, the legal profession, human resources and others that employers have been subjecting them to training to assist with their handling of issues relating to members of the LGBTI community. He believes this is in anticipation of coming LGBTI-friendly laws.