BRIDGETOWN — Warning that Barbados could no longer hide from “contemporary reality,” outspoken Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, has called for Barbadians to accept that lesbian and gay relationships were now part of their culture.
The Minister made the statement yesterday during parliamentary debates on a bill to amend the Domestic Violence Act. The bill, when passed, will give greater powers to law enforcement officials to intervene in cases of intimate partner violence.
“This country lives with a certain level of hypocrisy,” Jones said, “so now that we are pulling out of the shadows the violence within heterosexual relationships; we need to pull out of the shadows the violence, domestic as it is, [in lesbian and gay relationships].”
The Minister warned that rendering same-sex relationships invisible, in much the same way that victims of domestic abuse were rendered invisible, was problematic.
“When a society hides itself and says, ‘no these things don’t exist,’ we are opening another door for domestic violence,” Jones argued. “We know in our country there are persons who now live together, who share resources, who have sexual intercourse or outer course, or whatever course, we know that.”
The Minister’s statements are controversial even within his own Cabinet. In November 2014, an Opposition Senator invited the ire of a Government MP by advancing a proposal to remove gender descriptors from the definition of a “relationship” in the Domestic Violence Act. That MP, Environment Minister, Dr. Denis Lowe, threatened to resign if any such amendments were made, and warned that he would petition churches to come against the move.
“I am a man of The Bible, a person of faith”, Lowe said at the time, “[this legislation] runs against the grain of what I have always known to be the biblical way.”
In wrapping us contribution to the debate, Jones said “I want persons in this country to understand that it is no longer a situation of domestic abuse of male on female, or female on male or where children are caught up . . . today, with contemporary lifestyles, it might very well be female on female and male on male.”
Popular opinion on homosexuality in Barbados, according to a recent poll by the Caribbean Development Research Services Inc. (CADRES), has shifted positively over the course of the last decade, with levels of acceptance rising 11 percentage points since 2004, with over half (67%) of the Barbadian population self-describing as “tolerant” or “accepting” of homosexuals.
Overwhelmingly, the study also found that 82% of Barbadians were against discrimination towards homosexuals.
H/T Barbados Today