Last edited: March 31, 2006

Bahamians Demonstrate Against Lesbian Cruise

Reuters, April 13, 1998

NASSAU, Bahamas - Protesters in the Bahamas capital Nassau screamed and chanted at a group of passengers from a lesbian vacation tour who came ashore from a cruise ship Monday.

Holding placards and chanting "no gay ship," about 300 demonstrators from a group called Save the Bahamas crowded Prince George Wharf where the charter cruise ship SS Seabreeze had docked.

About 12 women on the ship -- chartered by Olivia Cruises and Resorts, a travel company that caters to lesbians -- came ashore soon after.

One of the women leaned over and kissed a fellow passenger, further angering protesters who shouted and waved placards reading "Keep your perversions in your bedrooms" and "Abomination is a sin."

"I came here to show resentment to...lesbians and homosexuals coming to our shores," said protester Barbara Taylor, a school teacher "I saw with my own eyes two people kissing. I'm upset with the government for allowing them to come here," she told reporters.

The cruise ship, which had sailed from Miami, was carrying about 800 passengers, all women and mostly from the United States. The Olivia travel company is based in Oakland, California.

The demonstration highlighted a current debate in the Caribbean on the issue of homosexuality and gay tourism that began in December when the Cayman Islands refused landing rights to a cruise ship chartered by a group of 900 gay vacationers.

Some Bahamian church ministers have held several protests against gay tourist groups in the Bahamas and have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who has said the Bahamas will not discriminate against gay tourists.

Save the Bahamas chairman Pastor Mario Moxey has criticized Ingraham for saying in March that: "Homosexuality is not a contagious disease and it is not a crime in the Bahamas."

Save the Bahamas is lobbying for stricter laws on sodomy and a ban on gay cruises in the island chain, a favorite stop for cruises from the United States.

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