Barbados Demands Sexual Rights and Freedom for All
George Griffith, Executive Director of Barbados Family Planning Association
The recent events in Jamaica surrounding the brutal murder of a 16-year-old boy described as a "cross-dresser" by the media should be a wakeup call for people in Barbados and across the Caribbean more generally.
Regrettably, there seems to be a growing intolerance by some people in our society of any person or group that chooses to exercise their right to live their lives as they see fit. Some people are self-righteously ascribing themselves with the authority to force others to accept their ideas about morality, lifestyle, and cultural norms. They see their own sensibilities as the only “right” way of living.
But lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of our society are entitled to the same fundamental rights and freedoms as all other citizens. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution of every Caribbean state, and LGBT people should not be excluded. They must not be made to feel like they ought to apologize for who they are. Any democratic society worth its salt must be broadminded enough to accommodate the sexual diversity which is present in all populations.
Our church leaders, in particular, are failing to provide the leadership this issue demands. The demagoguery that is spewed from soap boxes and pulpits across our national landscape is an insult to the teaching of Jesus Christ, who admonishes us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Leadership can make a world of difference, and those who profess to be the followers of Christ have a duty to shed light where darkness dominates.
We all deserve to exercise our sexuality free from discrimination and violence, and we must demonstrate a higher level of respect for all individuals' right to self-determination. If we do not, the tragedy that unfolded in Jamaica could become the norm in our beloved Barbados.
Sexual preference does not determine our worth as citizens or our ability to contribute to the growth and development of Barbadian society. Our worth and dignity as human beings transcends sexuality. It's time we give each other the respect we're due.