BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 1, 2014 — CariFLAGS, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations in the Caribbean, has entered the debate now swirling around Barbadian Minister of Environment & Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, over faith, equality and “gender-neutral” legislation in Barbados.
In a letter sent today to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the group expressed disappointment in his silence on the matter, and reminded him of his duty and pledge to uphold human rights for all Barbadians.
The group further urged Stuart to clarify the position of the Barbados constitution and his own Government on the exclusion of specific Barbadians from social protection, since Lowe continues to serve in his Cabinet.
CariFLAGS, whose stated mission is to build Caribbean nations where LGBT people enjoy the full fruits of citizenship, copied the letter to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and a global parliamentary grouping, as well as local organization B-GLAD.
B-GLAD, the leading LGBT advocacy voice in Barbados, urged Lowe to resign over his comments, rather than wait to do so – as he threatened to – if legislation was passed to close gender gaps in laws against domestic violence and harassment.
CariFLAGS also alluded to apparent mixed positions within Stuart’s own Cabinet on the matter. The group reminded the Prime Minister that another Cabinet Minister, Sen. Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, had previously supported the kind of “level-headed” legislation that Lowe opposes, both in 2009 as Minister of Family, Youth & Sports, and again in 2011 as Minister of Labour & Social Security—after Stuart assumed the office of Prime Minister.
While congratulating Stuart for his “fine example of senior Caribbean statesmanship” when he, on a previous occasion, wrote B-GLAD to commit himself to the elimination of discrimination against persons of differing sexual orientation, CariFLAGS sounded a note of caution on comments like Lowe’s.
Lowe, warns CariFLAGS, is “claiming a dangerous freedom as a Government minister to advocate gender-based discrimination, and to speak out against the freedom of a group of Barbadians.” Such political statements, says CariFLAGS, amount to nothing more than “cheap appeals to polarisation and exclusion.”