Let the people decide …….. Parliament urged to put buggery law issue to a referendum

VICE-PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals Rev Peter Garth has urged Jamaicans not to leave the repeal of buggery laws to parliamentarians, but instead called for a referendum on this issue, which has again taken centre stage with the recent endorsement of same-sex marriage by United States President Barack Obama.

“Don’t sit in Parliament and make a decision; let the Jamaican people decide,” Garth said as he addressed the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper’s head offices in Kingston.

Talks of repealing Jamaica’s buggery laws intensified following the political debates leading up to the December 29, 2011 General Election when then Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller promised to review these laws if she was returned as prime minister.

Simpson Miller, who was returned as prime minister in the polls, also challenged a previous declaration by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding who told a BBC TV interviewer some years ago that no gays could serve in his Cabinet. She said she was not in favour of such a position and suggested that persons should be selected for Cabinet duties on the basis of their capacity to deliver.

Rev Peter Garth (right), vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, gestures while addressing yesterday’s Observer Monday Exchange. With him are members of the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (from left) Alexis Robinson, Dr Wayne West, Rev Dennis Jernigan and his wife Melinda. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/VIDEO–Let-the-people-decide_11518258#ixzz1vifQDUie

Rev Garth argued, however, that it was not a human right to be a part of a Cabinet and any prime minister has a right to select persons to serve in this capacity. “He (Golding) was extremely bold to say what he did and I have no problem with that because if someone says that is my preference he must have that right just as how Obama has the right to come out and say what he said recently,” he added.

Last October, Britian’s Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his country would begin withholding aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.

But yesterday, Rev Garth, who strongly opposes the repeal of buggery law in Jamaica, said he took strong objection to this approach by international donors.

“This is a sovereign nation and I take strong objection whether it is the President of the United States of America, the Prime Minister of England or Australia trying to dictate what should happen in Jamaica. If the people decided against it they should not be saying they are going to cut off funding,” he said.

According to Rev Garth, there has been no research to show where the buggery laws have made Jamaica a more homophobic nation. “You look at the incidence (violence against homosexuals) in Jamaica and I am placing it on the table that majority of those acts are infighting,” the churchman said.

Meanwhile, attorney-at-law and member of the Jamaica Coalition for Healthy Society Alexis Robinson said Jamaicans must realise that there are some things which were more important than pandering to international agendas.

“We will not come under a new form of colonialism and we will not allow England or America or anyone else to tell us how we should be who we are,” Robinson said, adding that Jamaicans were one of the few people in the United Nations who stood up for the abolition of apartheid in South Africa.

“We have a huge international voice, and it is time for us to use that in a positive way,” she told Observer reporters and editors.

She further questioned if Jamaicans want a Jamaica which is open to everything, resulting in the rapid decline of culture and family. “It is short-sighted that we accept something and 20 years from now we have nothing to hold on to as a result, or do we want to say no this is who we are as a people we will not bow to international pressure,” she said.

Tackle homosexuality in schools, says churchman

LEADING clergyman Rev Peter Garth says a special effort ought to be made to tackle the problem of homosexuality in schools.

He cited examples of irregular sexual behaviour in institutions for girls and called for an urgent investigation into “what has been happening in schools”.

Rev Garth, the vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals and a sympathiser of the anti-homosexual organisation — the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society — was addressing editors and reporters at the weekly Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange held at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue offices yesterday.

“Homosexuals globally do not keep it to themselves. Why is it that they go into the schools? Why is it that they do what they do?” the clergyman asked.

“You know why a lot of persons are afraid to come out and speak? It’s because they don’t want the name of their particular high school to be said (publicised), but we need to investigate what is happening.

He added: “I have counselled and I am counselling persons who have been attacked, and until the attack takes place, those students remain in school.

“The schools must be alerted to the reality that there are persons who are out there trying to infiltrate our schools.

Citing personal experience, Rev Garth stated that his efforts to counsel affected students had led to threats of lawsuits and in one case, a student broke her silence which prompted school authorities to sit up and take note.

If those girls were not helped, later on in life the gay community would say that these are all gay people. But we managed to help them through, as we have done with so many persons, and today what you find is that persons who have received help are happily married with children and are thankful that they did not continue down that road.”

“I have been threatened to be taken to court because I tried to help and to counsel persons. It is a tedious role, a hard role.

“The fact is a number of parents were called to a school, and when the parents came, some of them threatened to take me to court because I stand up as chaplain and board member and all that I was trying to do was to help these girls. The long and short of it is that one of the girls broke down and said that they were not lies and then began to call other schools that actually brought them into it.

“There are others who have been attacked in the restrooms and when they make a report they are told initially that nothing can be done. When people start to send texts, that’s how it begins, because they are told to find out in schools the ones who lean that way. So it is something that we have to go after,” said Rev Garth, who added that he was unaware of the extent of homosexuality in schools other than those for girls.

“I have heard about them, and people have told me so, but I have first-hand information about girls schools.

“I have also had that experience at university level and persons have come in for counselling,” Rev Garth said.