Barbados life sentence for Homosexual Acts: American Society of Travel Writers Barbados convention concerns
Sodomy laws are bad for tourism - regardless if they are enforced or not. Barbados is on the spotlight with The American Society of Travel Writers discussing if having their 2018 annual conference in Barbados is ethical
SATW’s Board of Directors decision to accept Barbados’ bid to host our 2018 convention has raised some concerns among the membership, specifically that there is law in Barbados that makes the island appear unwelcoming to the gay and lesbian community.
The law against sodomy has not been enforced for years. More than 70 other countries have similar laws, and the same laws remain on the books in 12 states in the US. There is even a sodomy law in Canada that has not been officially removed from the books.
Visitors – straight and LGBT – do not face any danger or prejudicial treatment in Barbados beyond what one might encounter from individuals in any country who harbor prejudicial tendencies. Barbados, like many places in the region, is moving forward on human rights issues, and the Board believes Barbados is a friendly, welcoming and story-rich island.
-Kenita Placide, Director of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) and Caribbean Advisor for OutRight Action International
The island’s LGBT community, while small, is not invisible. This month, Barbados will hold its second-ever Pride weekend. The launch reception on November 24 will be held by the High Commission of Canada, and events through the weekend include a beach day, movie night, business and services expo, talent show, and more. The island is home to two LGBT rights organizations, B-GLAD and Equals, Inc.
-René Holder-McClean-Ramirez, Co-Director, Equals, Inc.
SATW has been a safe and inclusive organization for all walks of life – regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, LGBT, etc. – and will continue to be so. We also understand and respect the objections raised by some members. But we are an association of travel professionals who journey around the world and write the truth about what we see. SATW members can be agents of change, able to go to troubled places, and tell our audience what we find there.
“IGLTA advocates respect and dignity for all. We do not support destination boycotts and make every effort to build bridges, not walls. We believe that tourism is a force for good that transcends oppression and promotes understanding.”
-John Tanzella, President/CEO, International Gay Lesbian Travel Alliance (IGLTA)
Embargoing an entire island or country hurts everyone, not just the purveyors of prejudice. While the Board is listening, respecting and responding to the concerns of our members, there is much that we can do, as a society, to encourage gender rights and freedoms on the island: a forum of local LGBT journalists? a presentation on the positive impact of LGBT travel? We are open to the conversation and to suggestions of how we can use our considerable influence on the ground.
Finally, one of the reasons Barbados is hosting SATW is the belief that our members will bring positive attention to the Caribbean as a whole, a tourism-dependent region that has been hard-hit by this year’s storms. Barbados was not impacted by the storms – the island lies outside the traditional hurricane belt. But while some islands will recover in time for this year’s “high season,” others will need many months to rebuild. Our presence will help tell the story of rebuilt communities that have suffered so much.
We can achieve so much more with our presence than we can with our absence.
Barbara Ramsay Orr
SATW Immediate Past Presiden
SATW Member Bea Broda came to an interesting conclusion: