Barbados’ gay rights and wrongs (Western media’s gay marriage miscarriage -part 1)

This article was first published in July 2015. It was intended to be the first in a series of interventions I am making into on-going discussions on “gay rights” in Barbados and elsewhere. For one reason or another I failed to follow-up this focused study of the media’s gay marriage agenda, until now.

Better late than never.

In fact, the timing could not be better as this article is being published against the somewhat simplistic media coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland.

I say simplistic because as CNN, the BBC, Sky and other mainstream media houses focus on the issue of clerical child abuse there is no evidence of the role of church-media complicity in the broadcasting of stereotypes that have contributed to the psychic dissociation and moral fog currently confounding the best intentions of humanity.

This first essay develops a related point I made in a Facebook discussion with other Barbadians, including some politicians, about the importance of biological parental links.




“As some of you know, I tend to be very critical of the fundamentalist Christian view of homosexuality. I think they’re too judgmental.

But I have several misgivings about ‘gay marriage’, not least because of how it could impact child rearing.

I find the notion of two men or two women belittling the biological, heterosexual basis of human life and identity deeply troubling.”

In these measured, balance-seeking terms, I began a carefully worded contribution to a discussion on gay marriage started by retired Barbadian banker Philip Corbin on Facebook on July 19.

And while I was not aware of Corbin’s banking background when I joined his online conversation, I was mindful of how the issue of “gay parenting” and biological inheritance relates to the question of banked and biological legacies (“blood banks”, of a sort), which I had started to explore in [link=page::3nv0bglh]another article here[/link].

Of course, I was also mindful of links that might exist metaphysically (providentially) with my on-going [link=]Lloyds Bank rehabilitation project[/link], in which the issue of idea tracing, like family tree tracing and other identity assessments features prominently.

Corbin’s conversation thus becomes a “channelling space” in a manner I scarcely anticipated as I got involved.

Through the direct and indirect, conscious and unconscious contributions and inputs of prominent Barbadian politicians, business people, religious clerics, and at least one “outsider”, Englishman Gavin Dawson, the conversation exposes the shaky, contrarian thoughts that are the brittle bedrock and fraught foundations of Barbados’ increasingly earthquake prone ideological interactions.

A related Twitter conversation about the importance of parent’s biological links in childrearing, with India-born English writer, broadcaster and neurobiology lecturer and enthusiast Kenan Malik also comes into focus.

In that conversation I coined the term “biospherical” as I sought to communicate a geopsychics embracing understanding of the interplay of nature and nurture.

Corbin, a former Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce employee appears to be responding dismissively to a denunciation of gay marriage made by a prominent local cleric-politician, the self-styled “Apostle” David Durant, founder of Restoration Ministries International.

Above a screenshot of an online Nation newspaper report on statements made by Durant and other local clerics in a recent press conference, Corbin quips,

“Are Churches in Barbados being inundated with requests to perform same sex marriages? Why is there this inordinate preoccupation with same sex marriages? Surely there are more pressing societal issues which the church should be addressing!”

But this latest controversy around homosexuality in Barbados curiously follows what seems like a rather measured denunciation by Durant and others of any US or UK precedent-following legalization of gay marriage that may be being contemplated in Barbados.

Based on my investigation of related events so far, it seems that the main impetus for Corbin’s dismissive response may have come from the headline chosen by the local Barbados Today newspaper, in [link=]its report[/link] on Durant’s statements, rather than what Durant actually said.

That provocative Barbados Today headline, published July 17 shouts “Not Here!”

Instructively, another report on the Pastors Prayer Network press conference, published on July 19 by the rival Nation newspaper employs a less combative, more conciliatory title – “We don’t hate homosexuals”, which I suspect more accurately conveys the spirit in which the evangelical clerics sought to deliver their message.

Might the approximately two-day interval between the press conference and the Nation’s report have allowed its author, Carlos Atwell, more time to process what he had heard?

Was the Barbados Today reporter, Anesta Henry, deliberately trying to sensationalize an issue which Corbin and others are inclined to dismiss as a “storm in a teacup”?

Might Henry or one of her editors – Kaymar Jordan or Emmanuel Joseph, for example – have been motivated by a sense of allegiance with or sympathy for the ruling Democratic Labour Party to exaggerate Reverend Durant’s point, in a mischievous hope of diverting attention away from the DLP’s current problems and unpopularity?

This seems to be the main point that Corbin and some other commentators were making – possibly because of Reverend Durant’s well-known links to the DLP. He sits as a DLP senator in the island’s Parliament.

I note that former opposition Barbados Labour Party member Lynette Eastmond is one of those inclined to dismiss Durant’s and his colleagues’ views.

She wrote: “But why would a church whose doctrine does not allow for same sex marriages be inundated with requests? Performing same sex marriage is a matter for the State not the Church.”

She thus echoes a smugness I distinctly recall hearing in pronouncements by her BLP colleague David Simmonds, a former Barbados Chief Justice.

He referred to conscientious Christian objectors as a “moral minority” some years ago.

And the memory is a bit vague, but I believe that back then Simmonds may have been referring to Christians who denounced a call for the legalization of homosexuality (and prostitution) by Mia Mottley, another BLP member.
But I would not want to suggest that atheistic or “liberal” types like Ms Mottley, Ms Eastmond or Mr Simmonds and their counterparts in the media have a monopoly on ideological smugness.

There is something distinctly “smug”, or at least complacent in pastor Durant’s and other Christians’ scripture-citing denunciation of homosexuality.

From my perspective, both Christian believers and atheistic unbelievers are liable for the incendiary nature of local pro and anti gay rights discourse.

Both for and against buggery laws can seem like smug bugs in Barbados’ burning rug.

Indeed, while acknowledging and commending Rev Durant’s and his praying network colleagues’ efforts to be conciliatory and communicate Christian compassion and love even as they denounce homosexuality, I also feel obliged to add that their efforts probably don’t stand much chance of convincing others who hold differing views while they remain within their selective-scripture-quoting, [i]shallowly[/i] biblical comfort zone.

Put differently, I believe that however sincere and well-meaning pastor Durant (whom I have known personally from the 1980’s) and other Christian leaders who denounce homosexuality or gay marriage [i]in blanket terms[/i] on the basis of supposed biblical authority and evidence may be, they are in danger of doing more harm than good until they venture deeper into the historical waters on which the Bible’s authority floats.

They need to appreciate that while “Thus saith the Bible” may be proof positive for them of the rightness of their views, other people may require more objective, empirical support for a position on homosexuality and gay marriage.

They must realize that their arguments must be at least as rationally rigorous as those of the politicians and secular media ideologues with whom they differ.

And I would say that this is a [i]minimum standard[/i] for Christians, because as far as I’m concerned, the arguments that the secular media is advancing in support of gay rights and gay marriage and parenting in particular, tend to lack rational rigour.

I make this point in the Corbin-initiated discussion, posting, rather lengthily:

“I believe disagreements on ‘gay marriage’ are inevitable – as are disagreements on every other issue that grabs the Barbados media headlines from time-to-time.

But I also think it is crucial to find common ground and at least some limited consensus on this issue because it is so fundamental to family life, questions of identity and the like.

That’s why I disagree with the simplistic, divisive theological arguments that Rev Durant and others bring.

I disagree with many gay rights advocates for similar reasons. Their arguments about ‘gay marriage’ and ‘gay parenting’ are not rigorously thought through.

But you know what, I think the Barbados media is as much to blame for this as any other educational or socializing agency – school, church, family, clubs etc.

I believe that journalists and others who have liberal access to the public via radio, tv and other outlets – people like Kaymar Jordan, David Ellis, Emmanuel Joseph, Eric Smith and Julius Gittens, for example – are failing extravagantly in their duty to help Barbadians make informed decisions on ‘gay marriage’ and other far-reaching, complex and consequential issues.”

Another person with “liberal access to the public” is political scientist Peter Wickham.

Wickham is known for his advocacy of gay rights, often in Eastmond-Simmonds-Mottley recalling, “smug”, condescending fashion.

And he has managed to excite the ire of at least two other persons who have so far contributed to Corbin’s discussion: writer and (former?) BLP politician Wendell Callender and DLP government minister Denis Kellman.

And Kellman, brings a peculiarly [i]personal[/i] dimension to his criticism of Wickham.

Commenting somewhat cryptically, he posted “How is it that you all have allowed Peter to dictate the agenda for us, if he is flying a kite because the chord is pop that is his business. He has never [been] able to gather moss for himself or who he has been trying to protect.”

And again “Everybody knows that Peter is not selfish that he is acting as a Proxy for Gavin [Dawson] and his supporters… Is Peter like his grandfather?”

Kellman’s cautious, cryptic language may stem from the fact that homosexuality is still illegal in Barbados, punishable by the death penalty.

He might be mindful of the selective silence that has become a socio-political expedient, not so much because of this legal prohibition (because homosexuality in Barbados is widely tolerated) but because of the relative “smallness” of Barbadian society and the resulting “closeness” of Barbadians [i]at home and abroad[/i].

This “closeness” means news travels fast among Bajans and being labelled or labelling someone else a homosexual could have far reaching consequences [i]at home and abroad[/i].

As I have noted in [link=page::3ryx1fyn]another article published here in November 2014[/link], Mottley, widely believed to be gay despite never publicly accepting or embracing that label, demonstrated how costly such labelling by others could be when she successfully sued a British publication.

Barbados Today Chief Executive Officer and Editor-In-Chief, Jordan would no doubt be mindful of these and other factors, such as the complicity of members of the local police force and their international counterparts in campaigns of “selective silence”, that could make the labelling or “outing” of public figures like the former attorney general Mottley and call-in radio show moderator Wickham not only legal but life and death matters, as they are in Barbados’ sister island Jamaica.

Canada-based Jamaican lawyer and gay rights activist Maurice Tomlinson was at pains to make this point in [link=]an interview he did with the Toronto Star in 2012[/link].

Describing a state of affairs that a number of persons in Barbados’ and other Caribbean countries can no doubt identify with he said the law against homosexuality is rarely enforced and more often “police use it for extortion”.

He thus attests to the sinister silence and secrecy-banking and trading that undermines Barbados’ and other countries’ police and press’ democracy supporting roles.

To be continued…