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Missionary Church rebukes Roper, supports buggery law retention

Published:Wednesday | August 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Garnett Roper

The cold reaction from the local Christian community greeting Reverend Dr Garnett Roper's support for the repeal of the buggery law has continued, with the denomination in which he is a pastor now rebuking him.

In a statement affirming its support for the anti-gay law, the Missionary Church Association of Jamaica (MCAJ) has said that Roper's opinions expressed in a radio interview last month, "are his personal views and do not represent the views of the MCAJ".

Roper went public with his views on July 23, the same day The Sunday Gleaner published statements from the head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, Bishop Dr Howard Gregory, urging the Parliament to strike down the 1864 legislation.

Roper and Gregory are the most senior Christian leaders and thinkers in the country who have come out in support of the buggery law repeal. They have said that they do not personally support the act.


A moral issue


Speaking on RJR's 'That's a Rap', Roper, who heads the MCAJ-affiliated Jamaica Theological Seminary, said the issue of buggery is a moral issue and not a criminal one. He also said that decriminalisation would help address the HIV/AIDS situation in the gay community.

The association said at a forum last week Thursday that ministers were "sympathetic" to the view that the local Christian Church needs to do more "to offer humanitarian assistance to homosexuals who have been recklessly displaced from their homes, communities, and educational institutions because of their sexual preferences".

It further said, "Churches need to augment their efforts and strategically join with social-services efforts to ensure that homosexuals living with HIV/AIDS are able to securely access the best available medical treatment."

But the Missionary Church Association is making it clear that it "does not believe that the removal of the buggery law is a necessary precursor for the securing of the best humanitarian assistance... [or] to secure the best

available medical treatment for homosexuals who are living with HIV/AIDS".

... Church group warns Parliament against 'piecemeal' approach

The Missionary Church Association of Jamaica (MCAJ) is warning Parliament against a "piecemeal" approach to revising sex laws that it says is likely "to affect how our courts interpret the buggery law".

"The MCAJ, as a denomination, and the Jamaica Theological Seminary, its subsidiary, favours the retention of the buggery law and disagrees with our colleague's analysis of the matter," it said in a statement.

A parliamentary committee is considering recommendations by the United Nations and local rights groups to remove the buggery law provision, which does not make a distinction between male or females.

Christian groups in Jamaica have argued that removing the buggery law is a hurdle activists want to clear to get to same-sex marriage.