This weekend, the “Bahamas Pride Freedom Weekend” was scheduled to take place at a resort on Grand Bahama.
Beginning last Friday, the four-day festival was intended to celebrate and strengthen support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community in the Bahamas.
According to the Tribune newspaper, the event was organized to "underscore the critical need for outreach and empowerment" within the LGBT community. The event's organizer, Victor Rollins, says that the LGBT community is often "stigmatised, manipulated or exploited."
This weekend was designed to feature a variety of parties and festivities, as well as a memorial to remember LGBT individuals who were victims of hate crimes or HIV. The events were scheduled to take place at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort.
But the Nassau Guardian reports that the festivities and memorial were canceled "out of fear" of violence from "irate" members of the public. The organizer Mr. Rollins reportedly received death threats. The newspaper also reported that local talk shows included vitriolic comments by those Bahamians who wished the LGBT community harm and suggested that God would condemn the LGBT members.
A religious leader, Dr Myles Munroe, of the Bahamas Faith Ministries International, added fuel to the anti-LGBT sentiment. He has made numerous public denouncements of homosexuality. After learning of the LGBT events, he issued a press statement that homosexuality dismantles "the very core of the natural existence of humanity.”
According to the Tribune, Dr. Munroe claims that "90 per cent of the Bahamas and Bahamians consider (homosexuality) unacceptable and violates their collective convictions, moral standing and values." He characterized gay and lesbian men and women as "selfish," possessing "unnatural preferences," and engaging in "unnatural human-destroying behaviour."
You can read a letter to the editor of the Tribune entitled the Homosexual And Bisexual Plague to understand this view of the LGBT community in the Bahamas. Or you can read this Bahamian minister's view on his Facebook page - "the Bahamas has to be careful that we don't inherit a reputation as a 'Gay Destination.'"
Frommer's says that the Bahamas is "increasingly gay-friendly," but "single gays and gay couples should still travel with discretion."
Some say that over 10% of cruisers are affiliated with the LGBT community. But whatever the number may be, why would anyone chose to cruise to such a hateful place?
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Photo Credit: The Tribune.