Barbados welcomes gay couples to apply for visa to work remotely from the island

Barbados wants visitors to return to the country.

To help achieve this, the Caribbean nation has introduced a new visa to allow people to stay and work remotely for up to a year. Significantly, applicants include ame-sex couples.

The new visa is called the Barbados Welcome Stamp. You can apply for a stamp as a single person or as a family.

On the government’s official visa application website, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said, “We recognize more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation. Our new 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, 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.”

 

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However, thanks to a Colonial-era law, there remains legislation outlawing gay sex between men. Although the law is not enforced, it threatens men with imprisonment. There is also no legal recognition of same-sex unions.

At first, it appeared the government website stipulated that a “family” must consist of a married man and woman. If two people in a same-sex relationship wanted to apply for the new visa, they would seemingly have to apply as singletons.

However, on July 21, during a two-hour address to the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Mottley was asked whether those in same-sex marriages could apply for a family visa. She stressed that all were welcome to take advantage of the new paperwork.

“I want to say that as long as I am Prime Minister of this nation, we welcome all. Everyone. At this country that has been forged regrettably in the bowels of discrimination cannot want to discriminate against anybody for any reason, all must breathe in this world, all must breathe in this country.”

The government website has also now been changed and is more neutral in its language. Same-sex couples can now apply for a family visa (which is cheaper than two single visas).

 

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Legislation was recently introduced by lawmakers to outlaw discrimination in Barbados on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation (although this does not include repealing Sections 9 and 12 of the 1992 Sexual Offenses Act, which criminalize gay sex). Referencing this during her July 21st address, Mottley told the House of Assembly, “The people that want to put us in a box, that will allow people to be discriminated against for any reason, that is not who we are,” she said. “We are not that person.

“This country has welcomed people for decades and centuries without being that person. This country has made people feel comfortable and I am not going to be a part of any communication that suggest that Barbados is trying to be half of who or what it is and we are sponsoring discrimination or phobias of any type.”

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The island of Barbados covers an area of approximately 167 square miles. It has a population of 287,000. In another sign that it’s slowly moving in the right direction concerning LGBTQ rights, its capital, Bridgetown, held its first LGBTQ Pride march in 2018.

Donnya Piggott co-founded and previously served as the Executive Director of local LGBTQ organization, B-GLAD. She is now the CEO of travel company, Pink Coconuts. In a Facebook interview, she called the Welcome Stamp a, “brave, bold and innovative idea on the part of the government of Barbados.”

She also said that Mottley’s unequivocal support for anti-discrimination measures “blew me away … I’ve never seen a representative of the government be so clear about welcoming and having everybody feel clear in this space that is Barbados. And while it’s a little remiss that it takes an economic situation to recognize the power of the LGBT community, I’m still incredibly thankful and I feel so proud of my country because of it.”

Barbados reopened to visitors on July 12. Officials say anyone traveling from a high-risk country (more than 10,000 confirmed COVID cases in the previous seven days), must get tested in the 72 hours before traveling to the country. This currently includes the United States.

 

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Those traveling from low-risk countries should get tested up to a week before traveling. Anyone who turns up without a recent COVID test result will be tested at the airport and will have to quarantine for two days while they wait for their result.

The cost of a one-year Barbados Stamp for a single person is $2,000, or $3,000 for a family visa. Applicants must be already employed, earning a minimum of $50,000 annually, and seeking to work remotely – not traveling to Barbados to find work.

At present, the CDC is warning against non-essential travel for US citizens.

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