Jamaican Bishops Protest Civil Rights Reform
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
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recommended that the coutnry’s anti-gay laws be repealed and gay sex between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in January of this year repealed anti-gay sodomy laws in five of its Caribbean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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