The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, the current chair of CARICOM, along with other Caribbean leaders who are continuing to cultivate and place a high discount rate on the lives of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens, is helping to mortgage the region’s future with atrophy, by retarding the growth of their nations in exchange for power by majority rule. Social inclusion, equality and open diversity foster environments where everyone can bring their best to the table and feel valued without incurring the costs associated with repression. In 2014, 12 of the 15 CARICOM member states still criminalize homosexuality.  Suriname is one of the remaining member states that has legalized homosexuality since 1869. Social economics has many costs and the archaic philosophy of legalized oppression is counterproductive to investing in a nation’s greatest asset; it’s people. In February, referring to the costs of homophobia, President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim stated, “Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and societies. Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.”

It is long overdue that CARICOM’s legal system guarantees equality before the law and a bill of rights that includes protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Curiously, CARICOM’s current agenda is seeking reparations for slavery while its own anti-gay laws undermine the legitimacy of this endeavour. Reparation and subjugation are a conundrum when human rights are being currently denied, while seeking amends for past human rights violations. Attempting to emancipate and ameliorate while citizens are being actively disenfranchised is spurious. It would not be ethical or moral for those countries who have long since decriminalized homosexuality to contribute money and resources to CARICOM nations that currently demean and devalue their LGBT citizens. This should be a factor and a caveat in considering reparations as it is antithetical to the philosophy of promoting equality consciousness. It is unfortunate that these discriminatory laws in CARICOM states exemplify a lack of maturity and responsible leadership.

CARICOM neglects to understand that human rights, which includes sexual orientation/expression, are to be protected, not levied with punishments which results in moral, personal and economic losses for the region. It is questionable if CARICOM is ready for the equitable distribution of reparations or aid. Instead of speaking out against homophobia there are some state leaders in the region who use homophobia for their own political gain.

The World Bank, United States, United Kingdom and the European Union are already considering homophobia in deciding how they provide and dispense aid. Regrettably, CARICOM is still operating under the paradigm that the world is flat with its refusal to reverse its human rights abuses on their LGBT citizens. We are all mutually dependent and homophobia attenuates economies with the immeasurable cost of the devaluation of purposeful relationships that we should be nurturing with each other to increase our Gross National Happiness.

Sean Macleish
Director
Caribbean Alliance for Equality

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

5 replies on “The costs of homophobia in CARICOM”

  1. THE WRITER OF THE ARTICLE RE HOMOPHOBIA AS HE CALL IT….IS WRITING RUBBISH..HE IS A SODOMITE TO THE FULL AND WANT GOOD FOLKS TO SUPPORT HIS FILTHY LIFESTYLE.. TELL HIM TO SOAK HIS HEAD AND READ THE BOOK OF ROMANS IN THE KING JAMES VERSION ROMANS CHAPT.(1) FROM VERSE 18 TO THE END OF CHAPTER….
    FOR THE WITER OF THE SAID ARTICLE I REFER TO…THE NEW NAME FOR HIM AND HIS SODOMIST GROUP FROM ME IS NOW… (SODOMIFOBIA deCEATE)…….

  2. This entire article is just ridiculous. To say that the author is reaching would be an understatement. Just unreal.

  3. I really do not know what this writer is saying about discrimination of gays in St Vincent, because, it was widely believed that the Prime Minister of St Vincent former press secretary was gay, however he was the closest person to the Prime minister after his family, and he had more rights than the regular citizen.

    So please hush.

    1. Watching Hard says:

      Just because something holds true for one person in a country (if it was true, because I don’t know) doesn’t mean it holds true for everyone else like him. When you hold a privileged position in society you are not likely to suffer all the negative consequences of having a certain orientation that is generally frowned upon in the society. Maybe some poor unemployed gay person living in some distant rural area, with no important family connections, who’s too damn terrified to admit to himself that he is gay, because he is trying so desperately hard to fit in, may have a different point of view than you. I’m sorry but I don’t think your position holds much water.

  4. peterbinose says:

    Many of those employed by the PM are gay, police, lawyers, […] preachers, and many more walks of life, its as if he attracts them.

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