Barbados plan to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage

The government of Barbados has signaled that it may be time for the island nation to hold a vote on legalising same-sex marriage.


Same-sex marriage may be put to a referendum in Barbados according to the country’s Governor-General.

Governor-General Dame Sandra Mason said its important for the Caribbean island to maintain its well-regarded position in world politics.

“If we wish to be considered amongst the progressive nations of the world, Barbados cannot afford to lose its international leadership place and reputation,” she said.

“Nor can a society as tolerant as ours allow itself to be blacklisted for human and civil rights abuses or discrimination on the matter of how we treat human sexuality and relations.”

The governor-general is a largely ceremonial role in Barbados, and the position acts as a representative for Queen Elizabeth II. As such, Mason appealed to the current government – which is led by Barbados’ first female prime minister – to “do the right thing”.

She added that the government “is prepared to recognise a form of civil unions for couples of the same gender so as to ensure that no human being in Barbados will be discriminated against, in [the] exercise of civil rights that ought to be theirs.”

However, Mason noted that it will not be the government who brings in change – instead, they intend to put the matter to the public and hold a referendum on same-sex marriage.

“My Government will accept and be guided by the vote of the public as promised in the manifesto.”

However, nothing official has been announced beyond that. Currently, same-sex activity is still illegal in Barbados, let alone same-sex marriage.

Barbados, like many former British colonies, retained an “anti-sodomy” law upon its independence. Anyone found guilty could face life imprisonment, however, the law is typically not enforced.

To date, Belize remains the only English speaking country in the Caribbean to remove the colonial anti-sodomy law. At the start of this year the decision to overturn it was appealed, but the law was once again ruled as unconstitutional.

The Caribbean and many parts of Latin America continue to be a dangerous place for LGBT+ people to live, with nearly 3,000 queer people being killed there in the last five years.

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