By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
A PERSON who identifies as gender neutral has said the country needs more people who specialise in LGBTQ+ issues to encourage greater inclusion in society.
Natino Thompson on Tuesday night at the University of The Bahamas questioned Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis about incorporating queer Bahamians into the National Development Plan. The event was opened to questions from the audience following the Prime Minister’s presentation on the plan.
In part, Thompson asked on Tuesday: “Considering your administration is one of the queerest administrations in Bahamian history - because there are a bunch of queer people that work within the administration - the question is how are you going to take care of queer Bahamians?”
The question triggered others in the room to also voice their views about the community. In response, Mr Davis said he was speaking about Bahamians and that is the way he views all.
Yesterday, Thompson not only stood by the question but insisted any national development plan should take care of the LGBTQ+ community.
Thompson said: “It’s not just the blueprint for change – it’s the national development plan…It needs to include LGBTQ+ plus people. I would say that in order for the document itself to be inclusive of LGBT plus people or marginalised groups, you need to have people represented in that grouping who are working on the national development plan. They have to be open members, not closeted members.
“You need to include LGBTQ+ people in the planning stages. Even if they’re not LGBT plus, if they’ve worked on projects or their work specialises in that area they understand this area well.”
Thompson said the reaction the question garnered was intended to make people feel uncomfortable.
“I get those reactions every day, so I’m kind of desensitised to it. Its emotionally exhausting, let me be frank, but after a while you get used to it because that’s how you know they’re homophobic. They do stuff like that because they want you to shut up and one thing I’m not about to do is shut up. That’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to speak up,” Thompson told The Tribune.
“It’s their reaction. They feel uncomfortable and my whole aim is to make them uncomfortable because I’ve been uncomfortable my entire existence in The Bahamas.”
As for the comment that the Davis administration was one if the “queerest” in Bahamian history, Thompson said: “Queer people know and that’s all that matters. They know who I’m talking about. They know what I mean and that’s who it’s for – it was for my community. My community knows that exactly what I said was true and if anybody else wants to disprove my point then they’re welcome to.”
For its part, Equality Bahamas said in a statement yesterday there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and the general approach is “lazy, ineffective, and results in inequity”.
“Equality Bahamas has consistently called for feminist policymaking, centering people in situations of vulnerability,” the statement said. “The prime minister said the focus is on ‘all Bahamians’, but it is not possible to meet all needs without recognising different identities and different circumstances, which directly impact needs and ability to access (and) to use available resources and services.
“There must be specific consideration of women and girls, LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, people experiencing poverty, elderly people, and other marginalised groups. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and the general approach is lazy, ineffective, and results in inequity.”
One woman, in reaction to Thompson’s question on Tuesday night argued queer people are treated like everyone else but the “government is not responsible for your choice”.
The organisation also responded in relation to this.
“The comment made after that question, by the person in the audience, is evidence of the need for a different approach to governance. That person was enraged by the very idea that we are not all the same and therefore have different needs, and her behaviour is evidence that hostility toward marginalised groups exists, that people would prefer for us to be invisible, and that not including us in consultation and not naming us in a national development plan is gives people permission to be disrespectful, hateful, and violent toward people who are not like them,” Equality Bahamas said.
“We cannot assume that we all see each other and treat each other with respect. We do not, and we need our representatives and those engaged in policymaking to commit themselves to the promotion and expansion of our access to human rights. Nothing will work for all of us until we centre those at the highest risk, with the greatest vulnerability, and with the burden of helping themselves while being invisible or palatable for everyone else.”