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Barbados: Come for the beaches, stay for the life sentence

Why not escape from Covid-19 by moving your online work to Barbados? It’s inviting, warm, sunny and mostly Covid-19-free. But if you’re gay, you might spend the rest of your life in a Barbados prison instead of on a Caribbean beach.

Barbados beach, Barbados prison.

The Eastern Caribbean nation has launched a campaign that invites online workers to relocate from cramped home offices to a balmy beachside paradise.

As first glance, Barbados sounds appealing. Its Covid-19 rates are 30 times lower than those in the United States. No visa is needed for at least six months. As part of a “Barbados Welcome Stamp” campaign, the government is seeking to eliminate income taxes for relocated workers.

But the campaign doesn’t mention Section 9 of the nation’s Sexual Offense Act of 1992, which calls for life imprisonment for consensual same-sex intercourse. Nor does it mention Section 12, which provides 10 years in prison for same-sex intimacy without intercourse.

Those punishments haven’t been imposed in recent years, but they remain a threat hanging over every LGBTQ person on the island. International human rights advocates repeatedly have called for the repeal of those laws, but the Barbadian government refuses.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley (Photo courtesy of TotallyBarbados.com)

Instead it pretends the laws don’t exist, as Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley did as she invited white-collar workers to move to Barbados.

“You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back,” Mottley said.

“Covid-19 has placed a severe strain on people’s mental wellness,” she told the Washington Post. “The sunshine is powerful. The seawater is powerful. They’re both therapeutic in ways that are hard to explain. And we felt that, why not share it?”

Yes, prime minister, why not share it generously, untainted by homophobia?

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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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