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Barbados: More backlash for government minister over comments about same-sex unions

From Caribbean News Service

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 18 2017 – Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe remains in the line of fire for seemingly pouring scorn on Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and other childless women, whilst strongly denouncing same sex marriages.

In response to the comments made by Lowe at a Mother’s Day function at the weekend, President of the Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination (BGLAD) Donnya Piggott has suggested that the minister has an obsession with homosexuals.

However, she has called on the Christ Church East representative to stop the gay bashing and to pay more attention to the pressing economic issues of today.

“I feel concerned about Denis Lowe because I feel that at this stage where the Barbados economy is not doing so well,  . . . his concern should really be about the unemployment rates amongst young people, LGBT young people and various vulnerable groups –  inclusive of single mothers and the elderly in his community of Christ Church East,” Piggott said.

“I don’t understand what he is trying to do when all of these different groups are being affected by the economy, so Barbadians deserve a lot better from Denis Lowe and he is not doing a good job at all,” she added.

Addressing a ceremony in honour of mothers within his Christ Church East constituency Lowe charged that there was an attempt in certain quarters to advance a legislative call for same-sex marriage, while making it clear that he did not have any intention whatsoever of supporting any such move.

“I still believe in the biblical way of life,” the minister of the environment said.

And in an apparent swipe at Mottley, he also publicly declared that he was “not about to support any idea that the greatness of the nation is bound up in any individual who does not regard the importance of motherhood, of family, and of marriage according to the biblical standard.

“We want our boys and our girls to grow up in a society where they are not embarrassed because they live in a house where mum is a woman and dad is a man,” Lowe added.

However, Piggott has hit back telling the Government minister that “if he is so obsessed with the biblical definitions of marriage then he should start at the top . . . because we still have a prime minister who is very much unmarried and has had kids out of wedlock. So if he wants to talk about biblical marriage and the definition of marriage we can start there”.

The BGLAD spokeswoman also accused Lowe of touting blatant discrimination against members of the LBGT community, who she warned were not only citizens of Barbados, but powerful members of the electorate.

“You cannot believe in it [homosexuality] and that is fine, but when you are in a position of power you have to cater to all, so you can’t discriminate against people,” Piggott cautioned the minister.

Human rights researcher Shari Inniss–Grant is equally taken aback by Lowe’s comments. In fact, she has openly challenged his notion of the ideal family structure, comprising of a man and a woman. On the contrary, she argued that Barbados has historically been linked to various family structures, including LGBT families.

Inniss-Grant, who is a founding member of the LGBT support group called Join the Conversation, also denounced Lowe’s claims that same–sex unions would adversely affect children.

“What would make children feel a degree of shame is if you have that in your household and you are happy in your household and when you leave, you have teachers talking about the fact that your family isn’t right, or you have governmental officials, who are supposed to be representing everyone’s needs, who are attacking your family or attacking your parents.

“That is the thing that really makes children question, ‘if I am okay, is my family okay’.”

She accused Lowe of imposing his personal bias on the country, while suggesting that as a minister of Government, he had a responsibility to be all-embracing and not segregatory.

“If they [Government officials] are supposed to represent all of us then they shouldn’t be making comments that undermine the lives lived by persons who are already being marginalized and who are already being attacked, those should be the persons they are reaching out to and the persons they are offering protection to,” Inniss-Grant stressed.

The chairperson of the Gender Affairs Committee of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Makala Beckles–Jordan, has also come down harshly on Lowe, accusing him of grossly disrespecting the many childless women who hold leadership positions in Barbados and across the world.

“It is very sad that in this country because you do not have a child you have to be the victim of discrimination and ridicule coming from some person in the House of Parliament who is supposed to be representing you a citizen of this country,” Beckles–Jordan said, adding that Lowe’s comments brought back memories of equally distasteful remarks made recently by another Government legislator, Member of Parliament for St John Mara Thompson.

“To hear a minister saying that because a child has not sucked on your breasts or your womb has not been opened up that you should be disregarded as less of a woman is very distasteful.

“We are trying to understand why this childless mother talk is coming up in this country at a time like this when women are in the forefront of leadership in this country. If you look across the sectors of this country women are making strides in the leadership positions – children or not,” Beckles-Jordan added.

She also suggested that Lowe should stick to issues such as long overdue salary increases for public servants and the worrying state of the country’s economy rather than the inability of women to bear children.

“Right now, the minister should be speaking about getting some salary increases, sitting down and talking with the NUPW about getting a salary increase instead of looking at who has a child and who does not have one,” she said, while further complaining that instead, “what you have is one minister vex because you are childless and you have another minister telling you get children. Yet still they aren’t giving you no more money.

“What are you really doing in this country?” she asked.

Just yesterday, Lowe’s colleague Donville Inniss also took him to task for his remarks, while warning that the ruling Democratic Labour Party has gays and lesbians too. (Barbados TODAY)

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