Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
A SOUTH African pastor on the weekend urged Jamaicans to become militant against acts of homosexuality, saying condoning such behaviours could lead to consequences of enormous proportions.
Pearl Kupe, who is also an attorney-at-law, was speaking at an international conference on human rights, international law and the family, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on Saturday.
"The LGBT group in South Africa doesn't only enjoy rights that every ordinary citizen has, but they have special rights and privileges," Kupe said.
South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. In December 2006, the country became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalise same-sex marriage. The country is considered a haven for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
"What we are seeing here is a nation that is hungry for power and will do anything to gain such power, even if it means isolating themselves from moral standards," Kupe told the conference.
She added: "They are willing to trade ethics, morality and values in exchange for global power and we cannot allow these things to infiltrate your country."
Jamaica's justice minister, Mark Golding, was guarded in his response when asked by The Gleaner to comment on Kupe's presentation.
"It's a very delicate issue because we don't want to endorse lifestyles that are not grounded in Christian values, but there are very compelling arguments on both sides," Golding said.
"On the table right now is the repeal of the buggery law which we have to carefully analyse, so I really don't want to say to much right now," he added.Kupe had used her presentation to appeal to members of the Church and civil society to help counter the spread of the homosexual lifestyle.
"We are not here by coincidence, this was ordained by God," Kupe said.
"We have to come together and get the stakeholders involved and mobilise the media because we can't leave here without coming up with a response plan because we are heading in a deadly direction."
Kupe said a LGBT charter, which is being considered in South Africa, is seeking to promote the universal acceptance of the gay lifestyle. She also claimed it is seeking to discredit anything or organisations that condemn homosexuality.
"What is happening now is that there is a strategy to get homosexuals in the schools and to also perpetuate homosexual propaganda at every opportunity," Kupe said.
"The LGBT is actually advocating for the teaching of homosexual behaviours in the schools, so I'm not just talking about education of homosexuals but making it an option in our schools," Kupe added.
The reverend lawyer also claims that homosexual behaviours are prevalent within places of worship.
"It is unlawful to discriminate against lesbian and gay men in church, mosque, temple, synagogues or other places of worship. This includes the right to worship at a place of their choice, right to be a member or a minister of religion regardless of sexual orientation," she said.
"But I want to make it clear that God is not a God of equality but a God of justice and, as Christians here in Jamaica, you have to make it known that Jamaica belongs to Jesus," she said.
Children at risk
In the meantime, Betty Ann Blaine, convenor of Hear the Children's Cry, urged Jamaicans to say no to homosexuality.
"One of the threats to Jamaica is the argument to repeal of our buggery law, which is a challenge to all of us, not just Christians," Blaine said.
She added: "We can't possibly repeal the buggery law precisely at the same time when more and more of our children are being buggered."
During the run-up to last year's general election, Portia Simpson Miller, now prime minister, said she would support a conscience vote in Parliament on whether the buggery law should be repealed.
Blaine said she is not prepared to sit back and allow Parliament alone to decide on the matter.
"I'm prepared to take this to the streets because the Parliament will not decide this. Any repeal to the buggery law must be be taken as a referendum and it's the people who must decide this," she said.
Jamaican gay activist Maurice Tomlinson yesterday described Kupe's address as "typical of the fear mongering that fundamentalists engage in to deny the human rights of homosexuals".
"Few, if any of their assertions, are supported by logic or evidence," Tomlinson said in an emailed response to The Gleaner.
According to Tomlinson, "Jamaica will continue to drive this vulnerable group underground with deadly consequences for public order and public health" if the human rights of homosexuals are ignored.
"Most tragically, homophobia forces some gay men to form relationships with women. This exposes the women, men, and any children of these unions, to untold physical and psychological harm. It is high time the Government showed leadership and put an end to this fanatical intolerance by reading down the anti-buggery law to decriminalise the private acts of consenting adults," Tomlinson said.