Canada has issued a travel advisory for LGBTQ people who are planning to visit The Bahamas, drawing praise from advocates on the ground who have long called for reform in the former British colony.
Canada notes that “LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to The Bahamas” and that “homosexuality is not widely accepted.”
Erin Greene and Alex D’Marco, who are LGBTQ activists based in The Bahamas, said that they understood where Canada was coming from in issuing its warning, according to Tribune242, a local newspaper there.
Greene called it “a sound, a reasonable advisory” while D’Marco cited a wide range of reasons why The Bahamas is not a friendly destination for LGBTQ people.
“So for LGBT Bahamians, their claim is based on stigma and discrimination,” D’Marco said. “They can’t get married. They can’t advance if they are a public LGBT person, they are discriminated in that area. They can’t advance in their career. There is no access to marriage, hormones, medications, and all of that, so that will be their claim.”
Among other concerns, D’Marco said police in The Bahamas aren’t be trusted to help LGBTQ people in times of need. Police tend to blame people for their sexual orientation or gender identity and force them to sit for hours without filing any reports, she said.
The activists believe asylum seekers may have played a role in prompting Canada to issue a warning about The Bahamas.
In August, Canada’s Global News reported on a pair of LGBTQ Bahamian asylum seekers who fled their home country after they were mistreated by landlords, family members, and co-workers. The pair, Lex Miller and Ralanda Mitchell, also wanted to get married, but same-sex marriage is not legal there.
Greene and D’Marco did not immediately respond to a Gay City News inquiry about whether or not they believe the United States should post similar warnings. Currently, the US warns Americans to “exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime,” but there are no warnings directed specifically to LGBTQ people traveling there.
LGBTQ Americans have suffered attacks in The Bahamas in the past. Adrian Brown, a member of the US Navy, told The Washington Blade that he was beaten with bottles and rocks and called homophobic slurs at the Bahamas Junkanoo Festival in Nassau in May of 2017.
“I was dancing by myself to the music, when I felt a splash of water on my back,” he said. “I turned around to see what had happened. When I asked why the water was thrown on me, they responded, ‘You’re a sissy battyman.’”
Amnesty International, which criticized The Bahamas in 2017 for stigma and discrimination against LGBTI people, could not be reached for comment on the travel advisory.
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