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Jamaica blocks anti-gay preacher from entering country

by Heather Cassell

Anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson. Photo: Mambia Online
Anti-gay pastor Steven Anderson. Photo: Mambia Online  

The Jamaican government this week blocked an anti-gay preacher from entering the country on what he had called a "Mission Trip."

Steven Anderson and his 14-year-old son were called to the gate after their Delta Airlines flight landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport January 29 and the pair weren't allowed to board a connecting flight to Kingston, Jamaica.

Anderson, of the Phoenix-based Faithful World Baptist Church, had planned to travel throughout Jamaica.

"Jamaica notified the airline that I was not going to be allowed to enter the country, so not to allow me on the plane to Kingston," Anderson said in a 2:48-minute video posted on Facebook Monday.

The ministry of national security told the Jamaican Gleaner that the country's chief immigration officer wasn't going to allow Anderson into the country because of his statements.

Anderson rose to public notoriety following his comments after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, when he said, "The good news is there are 50 less pedophiles in this world." During the rampage, gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 others.

It was suspected, but never confirmed, that two gay Jamaicans were victims of the shooting, according to media reports, and the incident affected Jamaica's LGBT community.

Jamaican authorities said that Anderson's past statements "are not conducive to the current climate."

The ministry official didn't reference the fact that Anderson told the Sunday Gleaner that he also didn't have the required work permit or an officially recognized church sponsor to enter the country.

Jamaica is the fifth country that has prohibited Anderson from entering due to his hate speech, particularly against gays. Anderson has been banned from entering Botswana, Canada, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to his comments following the Pulse massacre, Anderson has also called for the stoning to death of gays and asserted that women shouldn't work, preach, or wear what they want, according to critics.

'Surprised'
In his video message, recorded from his Atlanta hotel room, Anderson expressed surprise at the turn of events.

"I'm pretty surprised because I've seen a lot of stuff online that said that Jamaica is the most 'homophobic country in the world,' so it's pretty weird that I would be banned from Jamaica because of my views on homosexuality," he said.

The pastor blamed outside influences proving his theory that the countries are heading into a "world of one world government" where they lose their independence based on pressure from other nations to be "pro-homosexual."

"Because the people of Jamaica are not pro-homosexual," he said, claiming in the video that he wasn't going to preach about homosexuality. Instead, he had planned to read the Bible, preach about Jesus, and "save" people's lives in Jamaica.

A petition launched by Jamaican gay activist Jay John, who uses a pseudonym to protect his family and his safety, to ban Anderson from entering Jamaica garnered 38,682 signatures as of January 29.

The petition was one of two John submitted to the Jamaican government asking for Anderson not to be allowed into the country. The second one was an official petition from Jamaicans to the government.

Activists said they were pleased at the government's action.

"I am very pleased by the decision taken by the chief immigration officer," wrote John in a Facebook exchange with the Bay Area Reporter. "It shows leadership and a willingness by the government to protect its people, including LGBT Jamaicans."

Expatriate Jamaican gay activist and attorney Maurice Tomlinson agreed, adding that he was proud of Jamaica for banning Anderson.

"This is a huge win for our Jamaican sovereignty, our constitutional protections, and the safety and security of all Jamaicans," said Tomlinson in Monday's victory announcement on Change.org.

Tomlinson migrated from his homeland to Canada after he received death threats.

Anderson wasn't deterred, stating that members of his church were already on the ground in Jamaica doing missionary work.

"We already have a great group that's already in Jamaica. They are tearing it up over there. They've already accomplished a lot," he said.

He also wasn't going back to Arizona but had booked another flight for him and his son to a different Caribbean island.

"I'm going to continue on to a different Caribbean country in the morning and just continue the mission soul winning there," he said in the video message.

UK MP speaks against Bermuda same-sex marriage law
Gay Member of Parliament Chris Bryant is taking the British government to task to defend same-sex marriage in Bermuda, a British overseas territory.

"It is a deeply unpleasant and very cynical piece of legislation," Bryant, 56, a member of the Labour Party, argued during a debate Monday on the Bermuda bill in the House of Commons.

Bermuda's Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May 2017. Seven months later the territory's House and Senate passed the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, which would replace same-sex marriage.

Bermuda Governor John Rankin hasn't signed the bill into law yet. Marriage equality advocates have urged the governor to veto it.

Same-sex marriages continue to be performed on the island and on cruise ships making ports of call.

Bryant said that the governor is within his rights to delay a final decision or refuse Royal Assent. He said he hopes the governor isn't forced into a decision by the foreign secretary and that he allows the bill to remain on the table for the Bermuda Supreme Court to take up the issue again.

"It almost certainly will," he said.

If the bill is signed into law, existing marriages will remain valid, reported the Royal Gazette.

A gay couple, Winston Godwin, a Bermudian, and his Canadian partner, Greg DeRoche, who brought the case against the registrar-general for not registering their marriage to the Bermuda Supreme Court, wed in Canada. It's unclear if the couple's marriage will be similarly recognized by Bermuda.

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales, and Scotland. It's still illegal in Northern Ireland and many of the British Commonwealth territories.

During the debate Bryant argued that if the bill is signed into law it would tarnish Britain's international reputation, damage tourism with cruise lines, and is out of line with Bermudian and international law.

Bryant cited international headlines, labeling Bermuda as potentially the first country to reverse same-sex marriage, and noted tourism concerns, such as luxury cruise liner Cunard, which advertises and hosts same-sex wedding ceremonies while at port in Bermuda.

Gay conservative Sir Alan Duncan in the British House of Commons expressed disappointment about Bermuda's legislation downgrading same-sex marriage to domestic partnership status.

"We are obviously disappointed about the removal of same-sex marriage rights," said Duncan. He noted that the House of Commons was carefully weighing the implications of the bill, Britain's responsibility, and the island territory's autonomy.

Duncan said that it would be an "exceptional step" for Britain to intervene with territories' legislative autonomous processes.

"This government has no plans to impose same-sex marriage in the overseas territories," Duncan said, reminding Bryant that the U.K. took a long time to legalize same-sex marriage.

Case challenges buggery laws in Trinidad and Tobago
A hearing for a landmark case challenging Trinidad and Tobago's colonial-era buggery laws was held January 30 in the Caribbean country's High Court.

The case, filed by Trinidad-born LGBT rights activist Jason Jones, who lives in the U.K., calls for the discriminatory laws to be struck down.

"We inherited these laws from Britain, but my own government extended the law from only gay men to include lesbians as well after we gained our independence," Jones wrote to Pink News.

"I am a criminal simply because I am a gay man," along with 100,000 other LGBT people on the islands, he wrote.

Jones said that he's received more than 60 death threats and hundreds of hate messages on social media for challenging the law.

A judge will announce a decision within the coming weeks, Jones told Pink News.

Jones believes that his case goes beyond Trinidad and Tobago, and could lead to similar laws being struck down in Antigua, Barbados, Graves, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent.

The aforementioned Tomlinson, who has his own challenge in the Jamaican courts against that country's buggery laws, refuted Jones' claims of his case's effect on other Caribbean countries.

Tomlinson stated that if the judge agrees and strikes down the law it would only have a positive cultural effect on the region, not a legal one.

It "would be persuasive but it would not be binding on other Caribbean nations," Tomlinson told Pink News.

"Each of the independent Caribbean countries with anti-sodomy laws would have to abolish them through their own courts or Parliament," he said.

Got international LGBT news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at Skype: heather.cassell or oitwnews@gmail.com.

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