Caribbean briefs: 2 glimmers of good news

Caribbean leaders recently made it clear that there’s a long way to go before LGBTI people achieve full acceptance, as noted in UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes recap of the world’s LGBTI news. But there’s good news embedded in two of the following news items: A church leader in Grenada spoke against that country’s anti-gay law and a government official in Belize ended up praising the work of an activist in the LGBT community.

The Rev. Osbert James (Photo courtesy of The New Today of Grenada)

The Rev. Osbert James (Photo courtesy of The New Today of Grenada)

The head of Grenada‘s Presbyterian Church spoke out on the rights of the LGBT community. Dr. Osbert James argued that although “homosexual practice” is “immoral,” it is not a “criminal” offense.

“It is not inconsistent if some of us, while advocating for the decriminalization of sex between two consenting adults, … at the same time would refer to homosexual practice as something prohibited in scripture,” he said.

In Barbados, a rally themed “Family, Faith, and Freedom” showcased divisive viewpoints: One main speaker warning sex education would lead to “sexual perversions” and turn children into “little sexual deviants”. Representatives of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination called the rally “out of touch and selfish,” coming at a time when the country faces serious issues such as gun violence, child abuse, and water outages.

In Belize, the Youth and Education Minister distanced himself from the LGBT community after presenting an award to a member of that community.

Derricia Castillo (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Derricia Castillo (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

As part of Youth Month, Education and Youth Minister Patrick Faber had given the Minister’s Award to Derricia Jael Castillo, 28. That honor goes to an exemplary young person who has spearheaded a positive cause that has impacted his or her community.

Castillo,  an LGBT activist and a lieutenant in the Belize Defence Force, posted on Facebook that she was honored for her positive impact in the LGBT community and in the community of people living with HIV. She noted that “this is the first time that someone has been awarded for their work with the LBGT community from any government entity that is mandated to interface with the youth population.”

Faber responded with a threat — later retracted — to rescind the award. He said she was honored for HIV work and not work with the LGBT community. He will not be taking the award away, at least not unless a proper review has been conducted.

In the end, Faber posted an apology to Castillo on Facebook, saying that while Castillo’s LGBT work was not considered when giving her the award, it should have been.

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