Freedom in the World
Political Rights: 40 / 40 [Key]
Civil Liberties: 58 / 60 (−1)
Infighting among members of the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) continued in 2015. In November, the BLP expelled from its ranks longtime member and sitting member of Parliament Maria Agard. Agard said she would challenge the expulsion, and continued to sit in the House of Assembly, the lower house, at the year’s end. The developments followed the 2014 resignation from the BLP of former prime minister Owen Arthur, who became an independent. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) holds a majority in the Parliament, having won 16 of 30 seats in the House of Assembly in 2013 polls.
As Barbados continued to grapple with a struggling economy, a number of labor disputes involving public-sector workers emerged in 2015. The country’s two leading trade unions adopted a policy of working at reduced speeds over complaints including the dismissal of 10 workers over age 60 at the state-run Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), and threatened a national strike. Sanitation workers—including garbage collectors and grave diggers—as well as customs officials went forward with strike actions amid disputes with the government during the year.
Conditions remained difficult for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people in Barbados in 2015. The law criminalizes same-sex sexual relations and provides for sentences as severe as life imprisonment. While the law has not been applied in recent years, it remains among the harshest anti-LGBT laws in the Western hemisphere. LGBT people face discrimination in housing, employment, and access to health care. Occasional violent incidents against LGBT people continue, and go underreported due to many victims’ fear of reprisals.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2016. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Barbados, see Freedom in the World 2015.
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year