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Barbados training: Police learn about LGBTI community

In the Caribbean, 16 officers from the Royal Barbados Police Force took part in sensitivity training sessions aimed at helping them to improve their understanding LGBTI people and the local LGBTI community, the Nation News of Barbados reports.

Attendees at the Barbados LGBTI sensitisation training sessions included (from left to right) Sgt. Stevie Burton, representative Didi Winston, a representative of Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination; facilitator Thomas Decker; and Station Sgt. Karen Grant. (Nigel Browne photo courtesy of Nation News)
Attendees at the Barbados LGBTI sensitivity training sessions included (from left to right) Sgt. Stevie Burton, representative Didi Winston, a representative of Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination; Capt. Thomas Decker from Canada, facilitator; and Station Sgt. Karen Grant. (Nigel Browne photo courtesy of Nation News)

Others at last week’s training sessions came from the local Community Education, Empowerment & Development group; the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender people; Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (Barbados GLAD); Empowerment, Quality, Unity, Acceptance, Love, Strength (EQUALS); and the Movement Against Discrimination Action Committee.

Maurice Tomlinson and Tom Decker (Photo courtesy of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)
Maurice Tomlinson and Tom Decker (Photo courtesy of Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

Canada-based activists Tom Decker and Maurice Tomlinson of Jamaica were facilitators at the training sessions. They have previously conducted such sessions in Grenada, Suriname,  St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda.

Nation News reported that coordinator Marlene Hewitt said such training was necessary if Barbados was to keep its international commitments and she felt heartened by the response.

“It was great to get all these officers out to participate. Most of them were open to the training and I am confident awareness has been raised. The next step will be to hold a course for the top brass of the force and in three months, bring together focus groups to see how far we’ve come.

“We want everyone to see everyone else as human beings. You are free to think what you will but don’t let any bad thoughts become actions. Change cannot happen overnight but it is starting,” she said.

Demonstrators in front of the Barbados Parliament on March 18 seek recognition of human rights in LGBTI people. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)
Demonstrators in front of the Barbados Parliament on March 18 seek recognition of human rights in LGBTI people. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

In conjunction with the training sessions, on March 18, Tomlinson joined four Barbadian activists in a stand in front of the Parliament, seeking recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people in Barbados. The demonstration was  organized by Barbadian trans activist Alexa Hoffmann.

Under Barbadian law, people convicted of consensual same-sex intimacy can be punished with a life sentence.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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