The Jamaica Council of Churches, JCC has responded alongside others to the long awaited decision of the Belizean Supreme Court on the constitutional challenge as launched by UNIBAM as headed by Caleb Orozco. Reverend Gary Harriott JCC’s general secretary said”
“My initial reaction is that we have to respect the ruling of their court that is their position, we know that the direction of same sex unions is taking root and obviously Jamaica is not outside of the influence or impact.”
He went on to supposedly warn of Jamaicans reactions to the court ruling:
“My own concern though is that in the Jamaican context as far as I know both the church and the wider society have not endorsed same sex relationships, so even if it is found by law to go against persons’ rights I still don’t believe that Jamaican society will embrace same sex relations, I don’t see it in the near future.”
The JCC has been soft on the issue of true tolerance for some time now obviously fearing a backlash from its own membership and from rival dividing newly formed church associations who have long thrown the us versus them mantra in the mix. The JCC which is made up of predominantly traditional denominations such as Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists have been accused by newly formed outfits such as the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society that consist of more evangelical denominations such as Pentecostals, Church of God and so on as being or appearing to be pro gay given the establishment connections and political affiliations.
I was hopeful that the JCC was moving towards a more tolerant position in previous years but we were proven wrong recently as a previous post showed with pronouncements made by the very General Secretary Gary Harriot at a recent media forum. The new kid on the block in the form of the Jamaica Umbrella groups of churches, JUG also has this traditional versus evangelical posture but it is not so blaring as JCHS, Lovemarch and the older Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship. The very Supreme Court judge is being labelled as gay by supporters of these various movements given his oral presentation in explaining the judgement, the written judgement was not ready yesterday or at the time of this post’s preparation so as to ascertain if this is really a precedent setting decision or a first instance ruling.
According to Dionne Jackson Miller radio host and an attorney as well she does not see this decision as having precedential value, speaking on her Beyond The Headlines show she said the local challenge can look at it but it may not be binding on our courts and only if the decision was made by our final court which presently is the privy council. Popular lawyer Bert Samuels has also said that the ruling may not be binding as he awaits the written judgement as well and says it may be of some influence only if the legislation is similarly worded and if the constitutions reflect similar sentiments in certain respects.
The difference with our constitution versus that of Belize is that they have sexual orientation included in the definition of ‘sex’ but we do not; that definition in our case was pigeon holed during the charter of rights bill debate which replaced section 3 of the constitution in 2009 finally by the very Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship as far back as 2007/9. That one protection which was clearly stated as a form of discrimination in the draft was purged.
Fear mongering on gay marriage or the slippery slope is on in earnest since the news has come on the ruling, praying on the national ignorance on various fronts to do with sexual orientation, public advocacy and the objectives and the deceptive medicalisation or the HIV is a gay disease ploy. The full paged ad in the Sunday Gleaner of August 7 is for starters claiming that us statistics show increase in HIV rates for gay black men, a point made by past president of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship Shirley Richards. Some like myself are still asking why this obsession with gays and finding huge amounts of money for full paged ads of this sort when other societal matters that require attention get left or ignored. Mrs Richards was all over media into the night with the HIV is a gay disease ploy to include the new show on BEST FM hosted by Rastafarian attorney Miguel Lorne where she got a near hour run where she struggled at intervals when Lorne moved to other matter such as the Mario Deane case to speak with authority in terms of support and real concern. Other antigay voices such as the transphobic Phillipa Davies was also making the rounds pushing the slippery slope mantra and going as far as to suggest bestiality and incest maybe next despite the ruling was clear as to consenting adults is only element which is struck down and challenged in the case. The usual magnification of the charges to make is sound credible is on and deceptively so and what is more egregious is that it comes from persons in the name of morality and God.
I am sure this is not the end of this as local challenges are also on.
leading antigay voice Dr Wayne West upon realising now that he and others may not get their way in keeping antiquated laws wants to play on the public's ignorance to go the route of an obvious uninformed referendum of buggery while ignoring the chief way of the interpretation of law.
West says such an important change in societal norm should have the input of Jamaicans.
West says he believes that any change to Jamaica’s law criminalising anal sex should come from a vote by Jamaicans in a referendum and not from a court.
West notes that courts in the US overturned matrimonial laws legalising same sex marriages despite citizens voting in referenda against gay marriage.
He says Jamaica should seek to avoid such a situation, stressing that a national consensus, through a referendum on buggery, is the right way to go.
Peace & tolerance
Jamaica Council of Churches still not clear on the buggery law but resolute in opposing gay marriage 2013