A Barbadian theatrical dance group is taking legal action after being “excluded in the name of inclusivity” following their “unconstitutional” disqualification from a national competition due to their Christian beliefs on gender.
Praise Academy of Dance Barbados was banned from performing at the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in October for allegedly breaching the rules by exceeding “the bounds of good taste,” and making “defamatory claims,” the St. Vincent Times reported.
The infraction was found due to the group’s “Speak of Life” performance produced for the event, in which they “presented a Christian viewpoint of gender identity and sexual orientation and declared the Christian worldview that there are only two genders.”
A recording of the full performance includes a depiction of a teen girl who struggles with her gender identity in school, with a dialogue sharing biological and biblical explanations for the two sexes.
At one point, the performers announce, “It’s not a choice, you don’t get to pick. That’s the science, period!”
Banners with verses from the biblical book of Genesis hung on the stage, stating: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Despite the dance troupe sharing their Christian faith for the last 20 years without disqualification, they say that Senator Gregory Nicholls, arbiter of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), “unconstitutionally” canceled them without referring the matter to the Barbados Supreme Court.
“The case is believed to be the first time that a group has been canceled for the expression of traditional Christian beliefs in Barbados and brings into question whether the LGBTQ agenda is being brought in by the back door,” the Carribean outlet reported.
Praise Academy has raised an official complaint, arguing that the decision of the NCF and NIFCA judging panel was illegal and unconstitutional.
Attorney Davida Maynard-Holligan, who is representing the academy, said the group had been “excluded in the name of inclusivity,” and that the ruling from Senator Nicholls sent “a chilling message to Christians on the island, especially young students, who do not believe in and refuse to conform to confusing and harmful gender identity ideology and extreme teaching.”
“The message is that you can no longer disagree with or criticize LGBTQ ideology without being canceled, marginalized and excluded,” she said, adding that the ruling “amounts to an LGBTQ takeover of our legal rights and freedoms in Barbados and cannot go unchallenged.”
The attorney’s stance is that the disqualification “amounts to a ban of the expression of the Christian faith,” which could cause “serious ramifications for freedom of religion and expression in Barbados and across the Caribbean” if not addressed.
“It is a shameful day for the National Cultural Foundation, and the Praise Academy faces no alternative but to consider its legal options,” Maynard-Holligan said.