A travel advisory from the Canadian government warning members of the LGBTQ2 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit) community to consider the risks of traveling to The Bahamas due to attitudes about homosexuality is “sound and reasonable”, human rights activist Erin Greene said yesterday.
“As an LGBT Bahamian who experiences violence, not frequently, but regularly, and as an advocate that concerns myself about the issue of violence toward the LGBT community, I think it’s a sound advisory, and I think it’s important to remind people who are in tourist mode to be aware of the culture of the country that they are visiting, as well as the laws of the country that they are visiting,” Greene said.
“In this instance there is a slight disparity between the laws and the culture concerning or relative to LGBT people in The Bahamas.
“I don’t think that there is any greater risk of violence towards LGBT tourists in The Bahamas than there is in the country that they are from.
“And, so, it’s the same level of risk in The Bahamas as there is in Canada. And, so, I think it’s a sound advisory for LGBT tourists, because when people are in tourist mode they become relaxed and sometimes forget about the risks of visibility.”
Greene said she does not believe the advisory attempts to sensationalize violence or the experiences of LGBT people in The Bahamas.
The advisory, which was listed on the Canadian government’s website travel.gc.ca, was updated on December 20 and noted that its citizens traveling to The Bahamas should exercise a high degree of caution due to incidents of violent crime and sexual assaults.
As for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) travelers, the Canadians said, “Bahamian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
“However, homosexuality is not widely socially accepted.
“LGBTQ2 travelers should carefully consider the risks of traveling to The Bahamas.”
Greene said she hopes the advisory will make the Bahamian government aware of how the country is perceived internationally.
“The advisory may be an indication of an increase in unreported violence towards LGBT tourists and suggests that both LGBT tourists and LGBT Bahamians have a fear or concern about engaging public services for protection,” Greene said.
“I think the state should be aware that LGBT people make up a reasonable percentage of their tourist numbers and that they should begin to focus on the needs and concerns of the LGBT tourists and Bahamians alike.”
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications