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Tasheka Lavann Headshot

My Home Country's Religion Doesn't Justify Denying LGBT Jobs

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One would think that after making a claim that LGBT members are protected in Antigua and Barbuda, the government would ensure that it puts its money where its mouth is. So then why are we allowing Christian groups and evangelicals to spread hatred and encourage marginalization of any group in this country?

During an event hosted by Concerned Christians for a Healthy Society (I guess queer people are poisonous), a pastor who claims to be a "former lesbian and activist" argued that Christian-based businesses should have the right to deny jobs to LGBT applicants.

This bigot and their homophobic group are essentially trying to effect policy change that would give businesses the right to deprive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women of one of the most fundamental rights -- employment -- simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. Shouldn't this be a crime in itself?

That is why many like me run from our homes and families to seek a life where we can be our authentic selves and still be employed without persecution.

Has the Government of Antigua and Barbuda not seen what this type of "business" -- the evangelical business -- is doing to our motherland countries like Uganda? Is there not some understanding of the negative impact that this type of bigotry has on citizens of a country?

Let me show you! Just look at this comment from one of your most influential journalists at Antigua Observer -- Martina McDonald-Johnson -- under my Facebook post about this development.

"You have a right to choose your church, culture etc but nobody should be forced to accept what they don't want. I have two sons and I believe I should have the discretion to turn down a baby sitter or whatever job application of a cross dresser or any other lifestyle I don't want in my home because I don't want that individual around my children or my children around them." [SIC]

The last time I checked, Martina, a gay babysitter simply wants to do a job of babysitting so that he or she can have some money in their pocket. That babysitter does not want your baby or you, nor does that babysitter have the power to turn you or your child into a homosexual. That babysitter just wants to survive.

This esteemed journalist -- or as I like to call them, "educator" -- is also of the view that a gay man or woman who is denied employment should simply "go somewhere else." I went into my memory bank and found that Antigua is a "Christian nation" where many use the Bible to discriminate and abuse LGBTQ members. I think I would know this from experience.

tasheka lavann
Blogger Tasheka Lavann poses at the Carribeantales International Film Festival.

That is why many like me run from our homes and families to seek a life where we can be our authentic selves and still be employed without persecution or without having to change our walk, talk and the way we dress just to keep that job.

This is the type of ignorant and divisive mindset you are creating as a government when you allow such events to take place in your country. More frightening is the fact that many within the LGBTQ community in Antigua continue to be denied jobs as we speak because of these kinds of messages.

It is no secret that state policies in this country continue to be influenced by the church. The very constitution is built on the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. So how can a government say it protects members of the LGBT community when this type of blatant discrimination is being encouraged and spread through the media?

Well until the church and other religious groups begin to pay taxes like every other citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, they should have no say in state affairs or labour laws and unless we are finally admitting that only some citizens have access to basic rights, then every Antiguan and Barbudan regardless of their sexual orientation and religious belief, should be granted employment at any public business profiting off of taxpayers' money which includes the hardworking dollars of many LGBTQ members.

At the end of the day, this is not about a "gay agenda." This is about freedoms and rights which were promised to us the moment we became citizens of Antigua and Barbuda. So, what message are you sending to the world? Is this how you'd want your young and ambitious Black sons and daughters to be treated in a world that continues to mistreat them?

I think you should just stick to qualification over sexual orientation, and while you're at, rid yourselves of this hatred you spew which is rooted in pure evil homophobia. It does nothing for the advancement of Antigua and Barbuda.

Signed,
A Forever Proud Antiguan Lesbian and Activist

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