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Jamaica Cause Backs Government in US Gay Row

Source: Caribbean Life
Whether Jamaican authorities deny it or not, large sections of Jamaican society appear to have cottoned on to current media reports that the island and the US have major differences over the government’s refusal to accredit the spouse of an incoming American diplomat who is involved in a gay marriage.

Local media have widely reported that the cabinet has turned down the request for immunity for the spouse of the unidentified diplomat and have even reported that the State Department has retaliated by refusing to extend the stay of some Jamaican diplomats serving in the US. Jamaican authorities including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kamina Johnson Smith argue that any action by the government to accredit the spouse would be in breach of the constitution.

At the weekend, a coalition of Christian churches known as “Jamaica Cause” held a huge open, air rally at a facility at Halfway Tree in St. Andrews in the capital to both support the administration of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and to reiterate Jamaica’s world-renowned opposition to and discomfort with homosexuality of any kind.

The well-attended rally saw a plethora of preachers and speakers supporting the government, arguing that the US and other Western nations are attempting to force their lifestyle on Jamaicans, urging that this be stoutly rejected.

Father Richard Ho Lung was clear in his approach to the issue, contending that same-sex couples can’t procreate. “Man and woman are made to be together. Man and woman bring forth pickney,” he said to loud applause. Phillip Gumbs, a leading clergyman from the tiny Eastern Caribbean nation and CARICOM associate member of Anguilla, wants a regional position against homosexuality and gay marriage. Such a lifestyle should not be encouraged in the regional bloc of nations, he said.

“There must be a united Caribbean cause. We know the truth and we will not be silenced. We stand as one against the false science and arguments of homosexuality and gay marriage,” he said.

Other speakers urged parents to closely monitor textbooks and other materials to which their children are exposed, saying what is happening in the US should not be encouraged in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s US Ambassador Audrey Marks has sought to downplay media reports that the US plans to refuse normal extensions to serving diplomats, saying in a mid-week statement that denials for extensions are nothing new and are not related to the current diplomatic spat.

“Over the past two years, we have requested a few extensions, and some were denied. The fact is that the USA gave two years’ notice of this policy change, and many persons who were or will be affected have been here for well over five years. Such long-term stays in the US were never the intent of these work visas when they were issued, so this policy is an effort by the USA to return to the diplomatic accreditations’ original intent. As a government, we agree and respect this policy position.”