BARBADOS: Prime Minister Welcomes Remote Workers, Except If You're LGBTQ
Updated: Jul 23
Rihanna would not approve.
Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, is offering a special 12-month visa to remote workers who want to live and work in Barbados and are projected to earn at least $50,000 during the year, except the offer explicitly excludes gay and lesbian married couples, and by default, anyone who identifies as LGBTQ.
"Although the COVID 19 pandemic has been a tremendous challenge to people around the world, we believe it has also opened up opportunities," writes Mottley online in a welcome letter to potential workers.
"We recognise more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation. Our new 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp is a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.
We believe we have something very special to offer on this little rock we call Barbados. Our friendly people, professional services, commitment to education and importantly safety and security, all make Barbados an ideal place to live for both singles and families."
Yeah, sure. As outlined in the application process, Mottley makes it clear the types of couples who should apply and those who shouldn't bother.
Principal Applicant: Lead Applicant for the Family Group Spouse: The relationship that subsists between a man and a woman who
are legally married
are not married to each other and have co-habited continuously for a period of 5 years or more and have so co-habited within the period of 12 months immediately preceding the submission of the application
So we're clear: Same-sex marriage is unacceptable in Barbados (I'm sure many on the island would even call it sinful), but heterosexual cohabitation (aka 'shacking up' prior to marriage) is completely acceptable. Got it.
This decision by Mottley to exclude married same-sex couples may not come as a surprise given that homosexuality is illegal in Barbados. But the move is a step backwards in the march for LGBTQ equality by a leader who was hailed as a pro-LGBTQ candidate during her historic campaign and win that made her the first woman Prime Minister of Barbados.
Barbados native and pop star Rihanna praised Mottley's win in 2018 on Twitter:
"Say hello to my new prime minister and most importantly the FIRST FEMALE prime minister of Barbados ... the honorable Prime Minister @mamottley," wrote Rihanna. "Well deserved and about time! Breaking barriers and making history in so many ways!!! Congratulations."
According to The Bay Area Reporter, Mottley won despite a homophobic smear campaign in which the ruling Democratic Labour Party questioned her sexual orientation.
Of course, Black Twitter had thoughts about the homophobic application requirements:
In 2019, Forbes ranked the 20 most dangerous places for LGBTQ travelers to visit, Barbados ranked eighth due to "poor anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and practices, largely left over from the British occupation which put these laws in place and reinforced anti-gay attitudes."
So in addition to being straight, if you're single and have the $2,000 fee or if you're coupled up with $3,000 laying around, you can live and work in paradise for a year.
And to LGBTQ folks and our allies: Let this serve as a reminder to spend your tourists dollars (when it's safe to travel again) where you're wanted.
Editor's Note: This story was updated on July 21, 2020 to reflect PM Mottley's change to the special visa requirements allowing LGBTQ couples and singles to apply. You can read our follow up story here.