Christian dance group in Barbados to launch legal action after disqualification

27 November 2023

The Barbados dance and theatrical group, Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, will launch legal action after being cancelled for a performance in a national competition which challenged ‘gender identity’ teaching.

The decision to disqualify the group was ‘unconstitutionally’ backed by Senator Gregory Nicholls, the Arbiter of the NCF, without referring the matter to the Island’s Supreme Court.

The case is believed to be the first time that a group has been cancelled for the expression of traditional Christian beliefs in Barbados and brings into question whether the LGBTQ agenda is being brought in through the back door.

Praise Academy of Dance Barbados was disqualified by the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in October for allegedly breaching Section 9b of the rules by exceeding “the bounds of good taste, and making ‘‘defamatory claims.’’

The Praise Academy of Dance Barbados is a registered Premiere Arts School with affiliations to schools in Jamaica and Trinidad. For the last 20 years it has produced dances and theatrical productions which specifically deal with various relevant social issues.

They had never been disqualified from any performance due to their Christian beliefs. The group has reached out to the UK’s Christian Legal Centre for support.

For this year’s NIFCA performing arts competition, the group had produced a performance entitled ‘Speak Life’.

The piece presented a Christian viewpoint of gender identity and sexual orientation and declared the Christian worldview that there are only two genders.

The performance, which can be viewed on the group’s website, rejected progressive gender education and instead promoted the protection of parental rights and the freedom to bring children up in line with Christian beliefs and not LGBT ideology.

The piece is abstracted from a show about a 15-year-old girl who struggles with gender identity, but finds her true identity in God and through reading the Bible.

It features a scene in a classroom involving songs and dialogue discussing biological facts and how chromosomes decide whether we are born male and female. A part of the dialogue said: ‘it’s not a choice, you don’t get to pick, that’s the science, period!’’

The stage had banners with verses Genesis which read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Following the disqualification, the group faced no alternative but to raise an official complaint with the arbiter for the National Cultural Foundation.

They argued that the decision of the NCF and NIFCA judging panel was illegal and unconstitutional. They said it was unclear what exactly in the production had contravened the rules and what was ‘‘bad taste.’’

Senator statement

Acting as arbiter for the dispute, Senator Gregory Nicholls, however, upheld the decision to disqualify the group without referring the matter to the island’s Supreme Court.

Furthermore, despite Senator Nicholls admitting in his role as arbiter that he had no jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality of the decision by NCF/NIFCA, he released a ruling to the local media on November 17 which said: “there is no basis to interfere with the prior decision of the judges of the entry Speak Life which was disqualified under rule 9B of the NIFCA rules.”

On the rationale of his decision, he said: “The NIFCA judges are experienced practitioners in their respective fields and are carefully chosen by NCF to judge in its competitions. The judges determined that the entry was in breach of the rules, more specifically, in that it exceeded the bounds of good taste. The entry was adjudged to have denounced various gender identities of the LGBTQ community via raging characterizations and expressions. This was a determination that the experienced panel of judges were entitled to make.”


The academy is now considering bringing legal action as it believes the move by Senator Nicholls to make a ruling without referring to the Supreme Court has deceived and mislead the Barbadian public and media.

Attorney Davida Maynard-Holligan, who is representing Praise Academy of Dance Barbados, said the group had been “Excluded in the name of inclusivity” from the competition 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 cancelled, marginalized and excluded.

“The ruling issued publicly amounts to an LGBTQ takeover of our legal rights and freedoms in Barbados and cannot go unchallenged.

“The piece “Speak Life” is a piece based entirely on science and Holy Scripture. The piece explores the different biological, chromosomal makeup of male and female. It presents a Christian viewpoint of gender identity and sexual orientation and on this basis declares from a Christian world view that there are two genders only.

“The disqualification by NCF/NIFCA of this piece on the grounds of discrimination therefore amounts to a ban of the expression of the Christian faith. The show was performed on a government owned, tax funded stage and marks one of the first known instances of the Christian faith being oppressed in Barbados in public.

“The decision to disqualify and the ruling issued discriminates against Christian beliefs on these issues and if left unchallenged, has serious ramifications for freedom of religion and expression in Barbados and across the Caribbean.

“This matter should have been left to the Supreme Court to rule on but instead the public and the media have been misled by a statement that the arbiter “has not found any basis to overturn the decision of the judges.

“It is a shameful day for the National Cultural Foundation, and the Praise Academy faces no alternative but to consider its legal options.”

  • Share

Related articles

All content has been loaded.

Take action

Join our email list to receive the latest updates for prayer and action.

Find out more about the legal support we're giving Christians.

Help us put the hope of Jesus at the heart of society.