A Christian dance group in Barbados has been disqualified from a national competition over its performance piece challenging gender identity ideology.
Praise Academy of Dance Barbados created a piece called 'Speak Life' which portrays a 15-year-old girl's struggle with her gender identity before reading the Bible and eventually embracing her true identity.
The performance incorporated dialogue stating biological facts about male and female, and the words "it's not a choice, you don't get to pick, that's the science, period!"
On the stage, the group displayed banners with words from the book of Genesis, saying, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
The group was disqualified by the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in October, allegedly for breaching Section 9b of the rules by exceeding "the bounds of good taste" and making "defamatory claims".
They appealed the decision but it was supported by Senator Gregory Nicholls, arbiter of the National Cultural Foundation Barbados (NCF), which runs the competition.
In comments to local media, Senator Nicholls 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".
"The NIFCA judges are experienced practitioners in their respective fields and are carefully chosen by NCF to judge in its competitions," he said.
"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 has reached out to the UK-based Christian Legal Centre (CLC) to assist them in their legal challenge.
Attorney Davida Maynard-Holligan, who is representing them, said they 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".
She said the cancellation of the group's performance "amounts to a ban of the expression of the Christian faith".
"The message is that you can no longer disagree with or criticize LGBTQ ideology without being cancelled, marginalized and excluded," she said.
"The ruling issued publicly amounts to an LGBTQ takeover of our legal rights and freedoms in Barbados and cannot go unchallenged."
The NCF has been contacted for comment.