High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Marie Legault (centre) cuts the celebratory cake following the launch of Barbados Pride Weekend 2017, along with co-coordinators of the weekend’s event Alexa Hofmann (right) and Stévia Arthur.

High Commission of Canada gives support to Barbados Pride Weekend

The High Commission of Canada in Barbados partnered with the Barbados Pride Committee on Friday, to officially launch Barbados Pride Weekend 2017, to mark the start of the UN 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

During the launch, which was held at the Canadian High Commission, High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Her Excellency Marie Legault, issued a reminder that action should be taken to end violence against women and girls in all its forms and to also combat violence and discrimination that target lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

“As we continue to work with organisations and civil society to advocate for gender equality and to end gender-based violence and discrimination around the world, we know that women, including lesbians, bisexual women and transgender women, experience particular forms of violence and discrimination in this regard,” the High Commissioner remarked.

“We need to ensure that no one is left behind. We need to ensure that everybody is granted that fundamental right, the one to participate fully in society and to be included and accepted, no matter what is one’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” she stressed. “That is why the High Commission of Canada has welcomed the opportunity to support this 2017 Pride Weekend. This event, which is an initiative of the Barbados Pride Committee, represents a landmark event here,” she further commented.

Legault went on to state that in Canada, same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults was decriminalised in 1969, with then Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada, Pierre Trudeau. In 1995, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms included sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination, she added and in 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.

Legault meanwhile stressed that these are examples of Canada’s experience and they are not meant to impose views on Barbados or any other country.

“What we are advocating for is an end to laws, violence and discrimination around the world, including here in Barbados that target persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” High Commissioner Legault stated.

“Canada has frequently been referred to as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. This is where Canada stands. Although other countries have also taken similar progressive steps, today, more than seventy countries still criminalise same-sex relations, including Barbados and six countries impose the death penalty,” she however pointed out.

Acknowledging that countries are at different stages, Legault noted “We look forward to working with partner governments and civil society organisations, including here in Barbados and in the Eastern Caribbean, to eliminate laws and to combat violence and discrimination that target LGBTI persons”. (RSM)

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