The People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PDP) says the Government has used its parliamentary majority to introduce the new concept of domestic partnership into the laws of Barbados without consulting with citizens.
According to PDP spokesperson on law and governance Maria Phillips, to say the inclusion of these provisions is not a way for Government to bring alternative lifestyle into the laws of Barbados, is untrue.
She said it is a deceitful way to introduce this into the laws without the promised referendum.
In fact, addressing the issue during a press conference at the Opposition Office, Worthing, Christ Church, Phillips said it is a travesty and trend of the Government due to a parliamentary majority to continue to change laws without consulting the people of the nation, making a mockery of their democracy.
She made it clear that the PDP believes that the institution of marriage is to be safeguarded and the direction of this nation is to be chartered with input from the people, and the PDP will not support any attempt by the government to legislate an alternative lifestyle.
“Give the people of this nation what you promised to give them. On a matter of principle, if you declared that this will be put to the people of this nation you have misrepresented. This issue has the potential to change the concept of union and family concepts that we know are based on biblical truths and which are still an integral part of the moral and social construct of our society, our people and nation and the future of this nation,” she said.
The attorney-at-law raised the point that the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill, 2020 introduces a concept of “Domestic Partnership” other than what is already institutionalized in The Laws of Barbados as the union between a man and woman.
She made reference to the fact that in the Schedule to the Remote Employment Bill, 2020, there is a reference to, and differentiation between a ‘Spouse’ and ‘Partner’, whereas Section 2 (1) of the Employment (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill, 2020 is gender neutral, and defines Domestic Partnership as “a relationship between two persons, each at least 18 years who live on a domestic basis.”
“The first question to be asked is how can a domestic partnership be recognized when Barbados continues to have the offence of buggery on its statute books? Reference is made to Section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act Cap 154. Anyone who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life. This legislation does not define buggery but Hunte v Queen defined as anal sex between two men.
“Reference is also made to Section 12 of the Sexual Offences Act which speaks to acts of serious indecency and is used for criminalizing acts between lesbians. How can you recognize a lifestyle that is illegal? Is this government seeking to impliedly repeal these pieces of legislation by their introduction of domestic partnership in the law?” she said.
“We can also cite other pieces of legislation the Family Law Act which make references to parties to a marriage or union other than marriage. The Family Law Act Part V means a relationship between a man and a women and who not being married have cohabited continuously for a period of five years or more.
“Further, the Constitution of Barbados as our Supreme Law, has entrenched provision by virtue of the Savings Clause Section 26:1 (A) which has preserved the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The institution of marriage was already defined as a heterosexual institution before Barbados was an independent state,” Phillips added.
The spokesperson also inquired whether including these partnerships in other legislation is discriminating against this category of persons. She explained that persons involved in same sex relationships coming to the island through the Remote Employment Programme will not be afforded protection under the Domestic Violence (Protection Order Act Cap 130), and questioned whether the nation is going to discriminate against them by not changing legislation to protect their fundamental human rights. Phillips suggested that these persons can mount a constitutional motion to say that legislation is contrary to Section 23 of the Constitution, which protects against discrimination.
She said, in examining global approaches to introduction of laws favouring alternative lifestyle there have been several approaches by states, including changing legislation to decriminalize buggery as an offence, introduce legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace, and introducing legislation conferring partnership and parenting rights. (AH)