Last edited: July 11, 2004

Jamaican Bishops Protest Civil Rights Reform

Datalounge, December 19, 2001

KINGSTON, Jamaica—Roman Catholic bishops in the Caribbean have protested against recommendations that Jamaica decriminalize sex between consenting adult males, calling such behavior immoral. "There is an obvious consistency in the Old and New Testament salvation history about the moral unacceptability of homosexual relations," The Daily Gleaner, the country’s main newspaper, quotes Monsignor Richard Albert as saying Tuesday.

Monsignor Albert was speaking on behalf of Caribbean bishops who issued their statement of protest after a government committee on civil rights reform recommended that the coutnry’s anti-gay laws be repealed and gay sex between consenting adults decriminalized.

Jamaica and other English-speaking countries in the Caribbean are among the most homophobic in the Western hemisphere.

In January 1998, the Cayman Islands Government refused to allow the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Leeward, permission to dock, saying it could not expect "appropriate behavior" from the 900 mostly gay male passengers booked on the cruise.

Following through on a promise made in March 1999, the British Government in January of this year repealed anti-gay sodomy laws in five of its Caribbean territories after local legislatures flatly refused to do so.

The move in London was angrily denounced by religious leaders on the affected islands. The Rev. Nicholas Sykes, chief pastor of the Church of England in the Cayman Islands, called the move "totally unacceptable to the minds of the Christian community here."

The order from the British Privy Council, which serves as the highest court for Britain’s overseas territories, decriminalized sexual activity between consenting adults in private. The order applied to Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos.

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