News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Weds. Sept. 16, 2020: Less than two weeks after the Governor of the Cayman Islands approved a law making same-sex partnerships legal in the British Overseas territory, a CARICOM nation has indicated it could also go that route.
Barbados’ Governor General Dame Sandra Mason on Tuesday at the opening of the country’s parliament, said that the island is looking to legalize gay marriage, but will allow citizens to decide through a referendum in the island nation of almost 300,000.
If it does, it will become the first nation in the Caribbean Community to make that move.
“My government is prepared to recognize a form of civil unions for couples of the same gender,” Dame Sandra told legislators, adding that this would “ensure that no human being in Barbados will be discriminated against in exercise of civil rights that ought to be theirs.
But she insisted: “My Government will accept and be guided by the vote of the public as promised in the manifesto.”
The news comes almost a month after Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley promised LGBT+ workplace rights and hinted the country will start to discuss same-sex marriage.
Mottley’s speech comes after an apparent mistake where the Barbados government offered 12-month visas to remote workers. Initially the official website explicitly excluded married same-sex couples – and by extension other LGBT+ people. However, officials quickly changed the wording on the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp to allow same-sex couples to apply.
Moreover, in addressing the issue, Mottley made far more significant comments for LGBT+ Barbadians.
“There is an issue as to who Barbados will welcome and who it will not welcome. While I want to say that as long as I am prime minister, we welcome all, everyone,” she said. “This country that has been forged, regrettably, in the bowels of discrimination cannot now want to discriminate against anybody for any reason. All must breathe.”
In January, Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican working closely with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to have the country’s sodomy laws struck from the Offences Against the Person Act, challenged the Mia Mottley administration to go the distance by not only legalizing same-sex intimacy, but marriage as well.
“Many people have said that we should just do decriminalization first and then do marriage equality as has happened in many other jurisdictions. My position is that there is no need for the Caribbean to proceed in that way. There is clear evidence that neither decriminalization, nor marriage equality harms the society,” said the Jamaican advocate at the time. “They actually help the societies because for one thing, Caribbean people will now be sure that their partners are with them because they want to be. Partners of the opposite sex will not just be with them because societal pressure forces it.”
The laws of all CARICOM states only recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman.
However, the Caribbean islands gay couples can get married in are:
The U.S. Virgin Islands
and St. Eustatius.