Dr Stead Williams (left), board member of the Christian Brethren Assemblies - Jamaica speaking at a press conference hosted by the church at its offices at Hagley Park Plaza in Half-Way-Tree in St Andrew last week. Others from second left are Ruel Reid, Bertram Gayle and Daniel Thomas. (Photo: Bryan Cummings)
A relatively small Christian denomination in Jamaica has come out strongly against the practice of homosexual relationships here, and is petitioning Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller too keep the country's buggery laws.
The Christian Brethren Assemblies Jamaica (CBAJ) stated at a press conference last week that no person who admits to being a homosexual could hold a leadership position in the church.
Stating the CBAJ's view on homosexuality, board member Dr Stead Williams said all people struggle with moral failure and fall short of God's standards and need God's forgiveness.
"Homosexuality is but one of these struggles. CBAJ opposes the practice of homosexual acts on biblical, medical and social grounds," he said at the press conference hosted by the CBAJ at its offices in St Andrew.
Dr Williams also presented excerpts from an 89-page position paper detailing the reasons for CBAJ's stance.
Among the medical reasons supporting the church's position, the paper said "acting on homosexual attraction is voluntary, claims of genetic or environmental determinism do not relieve individuals or moral responsibility for their sexual behaviour".
The paper also said homosexual behaviour can be changed and that there was evidence that many persons have been able to abstain from homosexual acts.
However, the church said the Christian community must condemn hatred and violence against those involved in homosexual behaviour.
Said Dr Williams: "Christians should oppose legislative attempts to grant special rights based on sexual behaviour or to equate homosexual relationships with heterosexual marriages."
Meanwhile, Daniel Thomas, leader of the Love March Movement, said his group has been visiting churches across the island to have them sign the petition calling for the buggery law to be kept.
"The buggery law undergirds many social institutions; it undergirds marriage, it guides the media as to what can be shown on TV, it guides our youngsters in terms of education. If the buggery law is repealed now, in a couple of years we will have to teach our kindergarten students that John and Mark can get married, and we definitely oppose that," Thomas said.
The group has a deadline to present the petition to the prime minister at the end of February.
CBAJ Chief Executive Officer Carl Scharschmidt said the matter of homosexuality was being researched and discussed for some time now, and that the church decided that it was time to take a stand on the issue.
The statement comes against the background of the Anglican Church in the United Kingdom last week voting to allow gay men to be ordained as bishops, as long as they agree to remain celibate.
The Anglican Church in Jamaica has since said that it will not allow homosexuals to become leaders.
The CBAJ, which has been in Jamaica since 1922, represents 23,647 persons or 0.88 per cent of the population according to the 2011 Census.
Meanwhile here is the newsclip I found on the issue, sadly the group conflates paedophilia with adult male homosexuality as if to suggest that repealing the buggery law without the necessary buffers and protections that already exist in terms of carnal abuse and so on with have paedophiles running rampant when homosexuality and peadophiles are not one in the same.
They have been also said to be in the pocket of the ruling PNP hence their reticence in critiquing the administration.
Peace and tolerance