«While we support the state’s intention to provide some legal recognition for same-sex couples, this is incomplete if expressions of affection and intimacy between same-sex couples continue to be considered crimes», notes Kenita Placide, Executive Director of ECADE. Placide says, «Government must repeal Chapter 154, Section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act if it is to really ‘ensure that no human being in Barbados will be discriminated against, in exercise of civil rights that ought to be theirs,’ as declared by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason»,
Under the Sexual Offences Act in Barbados, anal and oral sex are criminalised. Buggery is listed as an offence for which a person, if convicted, can be sentenced to life in prison. For sexual indecency, the law stipulates a person found guilty can spend up to ten years in prison.
ECADE, which in 2019 launched a multi-country challenge to the buggery laws in the eastern Caribbean, is an independent umbrella of 26 organisations from nine countries, including Barbados. Equals Barbados, Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination (B-GLAD) and MOVADAC are among ECADE’s member organisations in Barbados.
Michael Rapley, Chair of Equals notes, «This is a step in the right direction for the LGBTQ+ community in Barbados and their recognition as citizens of Barbados that deserve equals rights to their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts. However, unless attitudes from the general population change toward the LGBTQ+ community, there is no progress. These attitudes are perpetuated by the Buggery and Serious Indecency Laws, which should really be amended to support other legislation that is created».
Equals, along with B-GLAD, MOVADAC, Butterfly, Barbados Pride and SHE have for several years advocated for the full respect and recognition of the rights of the LGBTQ+ Barbadians. We welcome this current move, and the previously stated intention to advance protections against discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the workplace, as steps toward dismantling the structures that encourage stigmatisation of LGBTQ+ people on Barbados.
ECADE is encouraged by the Government of Barbados’ intent to, besides recognising civil unions, put the matter of same sex marriage to a public referendum. ECADE lauds the government of Barbados for leading the way in the region by putting this and issues such as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, universal adult suffrage and universal free secondary education into the sphere of enumerated public discourse.
Adult, consensual, same-sex intimacy is criminalised in seven anglophone countries of the eastern Caribbean, as a relic of British colonial rule that unfairly targets LGBTQ+ people. ECADE continues to support the work of organisations working to sensitise the public and reduce hate speech, discrimination and violence against marginalised communities in the sub-region.