Nasty Christians in the Bahamas
Reuters, March 9, 1998
MIAMI- A cruise ship that sparked a noisy, anti-gay protest in the
Bahamas on the weekend was not chartered by a gay vacation group, the ship's operator said
The vessel, the Veendam, left Miami early on Monday for a stop at Half Moon Cay, a
remote Bahamian island, on the first stage of a seven-day Caribbean cruise.
"We obviously do not check on lifestyles of the passengers, but the ship is not
chartered to a group that is comprised primarily of homosexual individuals,'' said Larry
Dessler, a spokesman for Holland America Line, a unit of Carnival Corp.
Hundreds of placard-waving demonstrators took to the streets in Nassau on Sunday to
protest the Veendam's visit.
The demonstration was similar to one in February when another chartered cruise ship,
the Norwegian Cruise Line vessel Leeward, was headed to the Bahamas with a group of 900
Hours before the Sunday protest, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham called a news
conference to say that all tourists were welcome in the Bahamas.
Ingraham said he was reluctant to respond to the protest, but a call by the Christian
Council ``to come out of the closet'' on the matter motivated him to meet with the press.
He said he was ``chilled by the vehemence of expressions'' against gays.
"There have been expressions of reason and understanding on this matter on the
editorial pages, but these have been largely lost in a sea of bitter, poorly reasoned
diatribe,'' he said.
The weekend protest was led by Save the Bahamas, a group formed in February to protest
the scheduled visit of the Leeward. Demonstators called on the government to acknowledge
the "outrage'' of its citizens.
The group asked Bahamians to sign a petition calling for the reinstatement of sodomy
laws, a ban on facilities for "sodomites'' and a ban on "open sodomites''
holding government office. It also called for the declaration of May 8 as a national day
Ingraham said the Bahamas did not encourage or promote homosexual lifestyles, but
"it does not condemn or exclude persons who reveal themselves to be homosexual.''
He said that the Bahamas, as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
could not discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual preferences.