Tolerance or acquiescence?

Anthony Gomes

Grandstanding and shouting into microphones are major parts of a politician’s “tool box”. And so it was with Mr Ernest Smith, JLP MP for South West St Ann, who delivered his impassioned intervention regarding homosexuals.

Apart from the forthright character of some remarks, he was doing what is expected of every MP, that is, to express his views on an issue of grave concern to the majority of Jamaicans. His apology to the Jamaican Constabulary Force for his disparaging remarks was timely and appropriate.

On examination, however, his positive direction was that numerous deviant pressure groups are attempting to infiltrate Jamaica’s culture by asserting their lifestyles as normal practice. Besides homosexuals, these groups also include the pro-abortionists, the ganja lobby, the polygamists and polyandrous protagonists, the believers in euthanasia, the supporters of drug decriminalisation and those lobbying to legalise prostitution.

This is currently happening in parallel with the media concerning lewd and sexually explicit public expression, which has developed unfettered over the years until it has reached critical and culturally damaging proportions with the release of Rampin Shop. Only then did the authorities, through the Broadcasting Commission, take action. By then in the words of a prominent Jamaican: “Di snake out a di box, an you cyaan put it back” – that is, without strong resolution!

Smith said: “They (J-FLAG) should be outlawed. How can you legitimise an organisation that is formed for the purpose of committing criminal offences?” In response, J-FLAG referred to Section 23 (1) of the Jamaican Constitution that they claim legitimises their existence. But can the constitution be relied upon if their activities are illegitimate?

As the sodomy law is still in effect, it would appear that Smith’s statement is not without foundation and any government that considers repealing that act would be committing political suicide. Prostitution that includes male prostitutes also remains illegal.

Smith maintained that: “Democracy, with all its freedoms, is not a licence for people to encourage criminality or otherwise conspire to corrupt public morals.” The key issue is the corruption of public morals. As a Christian nation we must therefore consider the Christian teaching as exemplified by the world’s largest Christian religion, Roman Catholicism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church article 2357 in part states: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life”. Further, in reference to homosexuals, article 2358 states: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” The Catholic Church, however, opposes gay marriage. It teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are, and the sin should be condemned, but not the sinner.

In a recent speech on protecting the environment, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to “self-destruction” of the human race. “Saving humanity from homosexual and transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rain forest from destruction. Rain forests deserve, yes, our protection, but the human being does not deserve less.”

The Declaration on Human Rights and Sexual Orientation tabled in the United Nations in December last year, as reported by attorney at law Shirley Richards, sought to expand the existing human rights concept to include “sexual orientation”. The Declaration was not supported by Jamaica. Simultaneously, a contrary proposal stated that the Declaration was an “attempt to introduce to the UN, notions that have no legal foundation in any human rights instrument”. There appears to be no UN consensus on including sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights. “Obviously, the power brokers at the UN are hell-bent on imposing a new version of human rights on the rest of the unwilling world. It is an attempt to assert the moral equivalence of all forms of sexual preferences and to harm moral and sound discernment, all in the name of ‘human rights’.”

The clamour for “tolerance” when considering the pressure groups’ postures is approximately analogous with a call for “acquiescence”. Historically, the world is aware of the dangers of “acquiescence” as demonstrated in 1939 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on his return to London, touting a non-aggression pact signed with Adolph Hitler that launched WWII, but not worth the paper on which it was written.

Mr Smith’s delivery of his message was unfortunately abrasive, insensitive and overzealous. His point, however, deserves serious recognition, particularly with regard to the potential for lifestyle deviation of Jamaican youth. The difficulties being experienced with the media which necessitated prime ministerial intervention should be a caution as to a laissez-faire approach when “the writing is already on the wall”.

Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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