Religious leaders in Barbados to respond to IACHR position

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According to CANA, Evangelical church leaders are due to meet to formulate an official response to changes being requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) regarding the country’s Sexual Offences Act.

Several evangelical church leaders are urging the Mia Mottley government not to make changes to the legislation despite a human rights challenge to those laws filed by trans woman Alexa Hoffmann, and two other Barbadians.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which reviewed the issue in the last year, has given Barbados three months to respond to the challenge.

But former senator, Pastor David Durant, has told the online publication, Barbados TODAY that the religious community is strongly opposed to any change to the law.

“Since the news broke, I have been receiving calls from pastors from across Barbados’ religious landscape and we are going to have a meeting so that we can make a united front and statement. So, the entire church body is making preparation to make a stand,” the Evangelical leader said.

He said while sexuality was about choice, the church has a duty to steer persons towards the “right one” suggesting that current anti-gay laws are differentiating markers between right and wrong.

“From what I am getting, the religious community is strongly opposed to this. There are choices and God has given us the power of choice and you could choose to go wrong or you can choose to go right. Our position is, as the body of Christ, is to help people to make the right one.

“For example, if a child does something wrong all the time and the parent neglects to guide that child in the right way, then that same child would grow up to dislike the parent,” he told the publication, adding that perhaps the current penalties under the law are too harsh and that government should update the laws without “tampering” with the intent.

“I think the law is a bit archaic and it should be revisited to be stated in a more relevant manner. The penalties are way too harsh, but I don’t believe that the essence of the law should be tampered with.”

Durant declared that contrary to what is being proffered by some in the international community, the local LGBT community experiences “no discrimination,” despite the existence of the laws in question.

The East Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has promised to issue a statement on the issue,.

The IACHR has reportedly issued the government a copy of the petition challenging sections 9 and 12 of the Sexual Offences Act that effectively criminalise all forms of same-sex intimacy.

Section 9 outlaws “buggery”, which the courts have defined as anal sex between men but also between a man and a woman. The maximum penalty is life in prison, while under Section 12, “serious indecency” is sweepingly defined as any act “involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire”. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison if the act is committed on or towards a person aged 16 or older.

Attorney General Dale Marshall told Barbados TODA that he has “not yet received nor seen any documentation in relation to any matter before the Commission.

“If and when any such documents are received, it will be dealt with in the same way that we deal with challenges to the legitimacy of any of our laws,” he added.

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