Government’s recent promises to protect the rights of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community have been flatly rejected by one of the country’s loudest advocates who has vowed to continue a human rights case against the Mia Mottley administration.
According to trans woman Alexa Hoffman, the Government’s promise to recognise same-sex unions without repealing the country’s buggery and serious indecency laws are inappropriate.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY earlier this week, she also rejected the coming referendum on same-sex marriage as “hypocritical” and “contradictory”.
So concerned is the advocate about the latest development, that she has vowed to continue a legal action before the Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) that challenges Sections 6 and 9 of the Sexual Offences Act which are believed to target the LGBT community.
“On my one part, I am not prepared to withdraw it…until the situation is resolved. If and when these laws are repealed from the books and if my petition is still ongoing, then I will give the signal that we can take this down, because there is no longer an issue to worry about. But as long as those laws remain on the books and as long I can have something to say about it, then my case stays there,” declared Hoffman.
Government’s position was outlined in the recent Throne Speech delivered by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason filled with “progressive rhetoric” on the protection of human rights. According to Hofmann, the LGBT community was then “shot in the leg” when it was revealed that the protection of their right to marriage would hinge on a national vote.
Hoffman further contended that the decision flies in the face of numerous human rights conventions to which Barbados is a signatory.
“The proposal of a referendum is completely inappropriate, because you are talking about anti-discrimination and making sure that the Government cannot discriminate against who can have a marriage licence and who can have their marriage solemnized and who can’t. For you to take something that is viewed as non-discrimination and put that to a public vote is a very dangerous precedent to set because you are talking about a human right,” Hoffman contended.
Citing recent decisions from international organisations, she argued that it is the duty of the state to use its power to protect the rights of citizens.
“When was the last time that we held a referendum on any policy change, whether big or small, and what was the subject apart from previous attempts to become a republic? Because for the 26 almost 27 years that I’ve been alive, I can’t remember a referendum ever being held,” she contended.
“They should either use administrative, legislative or judicial means to put things in place to ensure that non-discrimination, up to and including the ability to enter into a marriage contract, are not infringed upon in any way by any discriminatory practice. Government deciding to put this thing to a public vote is an absolute defiance of their international obligations. And I don’t know how Barbados can expect to continue to go into the international sphere knowing what they signed over 40 years ago. Barbados should be ashamed to show its face at the next OAS meeting,” she added. (KS)