Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Jaevion Nelson: Engendering cohesiveness among people

Published:Thursday | April 7, 2016 | 4:00 AM

There is quite a lot of banter these days about 'protecting' the family and how we understand and define it. It is rather fascinating how some righteous people among us have conjured that there is 'an agenda' which threatens the 'natural family'. Whatever that is or looks like. They claim this agenda is led by nefarious people promoting human rights and encouraging people to respect that we are a diverse people. They also believe that changes to laws relating to abortion and buggery are dangerous for mankind and would result in an increase in diseases (read HIV) and the beginning of the end to freedom of speech and conscience.

This is rather preposterous.

Accordingly, to pursue this protection that they suggest is so desperately needed, they frequently opine and host marches and rallies because they are deeply concerned about talks of diversity and human rights, particularly with respect to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. I cannot fathom, still cannot fathom, how they manage to conclude this pose a serious threat to the family. How can efforts to engender cohesiveness among people, and ensuring that the laws and policies in a country protect and promote the rights and dignity of all persons without distinction of any kind threaten anyone, or the family for that matter?

Not surprisingly, organisations like the World Congress of Families (WCF) have been actively working in the Caribbean 'to help secure the foundations of society by uniting and empowering leaders worldwide to respect, protect, and defend: the natural family founded on marriage between a man and a woman; parental rights and the welfare of children, including their need for both a mother and a father; the dignity and sanctity of all human life from conception; and freedom of speech, religion, and conscience in an atmosphere of respect for all'.

 

BELIEFS THAT ATTACK

WCF, which is based in Illinois, is a project of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) - 'an American non profit legal advocacy organisation specialising in civil rights and public interest litigation' has listed WCF as one of nearly 900 US-based 'hate groups' which they argue 'have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.'

Tomorrow, WCF Caribbean will kick off its two-day meeting in Barbados under the theme, 'The Natural Family: Key to a Healthy, Stable and Prosperous Caribbean Community' (note carefully the choice of words used). There are number of featured speakers from the US and Caribbean who will present on topics such as 'History of curriculum change for intimacy education in schools', 'The Sexual Revolution and Demographic Winter', 'Population issues and coerced abortion', 'Pornography - the silent family killer', 'Legitimizing Post Abortion trauma', and 'How to Engage the Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issue in Truth and Compassion'.

I can only imagine how the discussions over the next two days will be laden with incendiary comments to further excite supporters of their 'truth' and frighten others who happen to be there.

World Congress of Families is not the only US-based organisation that coming to Jamaica to 'protect' the family which is not under threat. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has also been active in Jamaica and was the entity that sponsored the so-called 2014 International Human Rights Day Conference, organised by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society under the theme "International Law, Development and the Family: The Family as a Strategy for Development." There is also Americans for Truth About Homosexuality - also designated by SPLC as a hate group - which is 'dedicated to exposing the homosexual-bisexual-transgender activist agendas'.

Thankfully, while these groups are working with their Jamaican-based counterparts to wreak havoc in our country, there are faith-based leaders who are speaking out against discrimination and advocating for women and girls to have access to safe affordable abortions. Their work reminds us that people of faith care and do not wish to use their platform to malign vulnerable and marginal zed people in our community. It frightens me greatly though that these groups that are fighting themselves to protect the family they claim is under threat become so vociferous when other Christians speak out.

Let us work collaboratively to find ways to build cohesiveness in our homes and communities, make them safer and encourage respect for everyone rather than espouse ideas and practices that encourage further divisiveness in our society.

- Jaevion Nelson is a youth development, HIV and human rights advocate. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com.