Despite some perceptions that homophobia is less prominent in The Bahamas than it was decades ago, local human rights activist and chair of The Bahamas Organisation of LGBTI Affairs Alexus D’Marco said yesterday that the community still faces violence and discrimination on a regular basis.
“There has been some vast improvement as regards to how people interact and relate, but there is still this part of internal stigma that the community themselves face based on not being able to get a job,” she said.
“We have cases of persons saying, ‘If I knew you were gay, I wouldn’t have hired you.’ And they got fired.
“We have cases of families throwing their children out once they see some signs of gender non-conforming, especially with our lesbian girls or girls who may be perceived as lesbian, dressing not as a female in a dress, and suffering violence. And this violence comes through correctional rape, through their own family members. So, these are things that we’re dealing with and these things are not talked about.”
Janeiro Bullard, community liaison officer of The Bahamas Organisation of LGBTI Affairs, who is also with Pride Bahamas, said he has been a victim of attacks due to his sexuality.
“I’ve been physically and verbally attacked more than once,” he said on Guardian Radio’s The Revolution with Juan McCartney.
D’Marco said the continued discrimination is part of the reason the local LGBTQI community has decided to push forward with its plans to host a pride week next year.
“We have over 876 cases of people leaving this country, LGBTI persons leaving this country, claiming asylum around the world and saying that they don’t have access to education, access to spaces,” she said.
“They suffer violence at the hands of their family. And, so, obviously, there is something going on in the country, and we here at Pride Bahamas want to have this dialogue and have this conversation; what’s happening, what’s going on. And if we are to be a progressive and inclusive society, and raising the human rights profile of The Bahamas, we’re starting with our community.”
However, she insisted that the parade event that has caused controversy will be private to protect participants.
“The climate that we [constitutionally] live in, we do not have access and spaces where we can publicly have a parade or a march,” she said.
“It’s not safe. And we will not put our community in that jeopardization, so, we’ve found a space where we’re going to have our pride parade, where the parade is going to be in a safe environment. It’s not a march on Bay Street, like tabloids have been saying.”