American Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Judith Reisman are scheduled to be featured speakers at a conference in Jamaica this weekend hosted by a group that has been working to preserve the country’s criminal ban on consensual gay sex.
The annual conference, hosted by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, will focus on how “[c]ontemporary society has become increasingly hostile to the traditional definitions of marriage and family” and Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel, will discuss “global legal trends impacting the institution of the family.”
JCHS’s conference has drawn prominent American anti-gay activists before. In 2012, two top lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom spoke at the conference, one of whom defended Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, calling homosexuality “harmful not only spiritually and psychologically, but also physically.” Last year, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera made an appearance at the conference, urging Jamaicans: “Do not be like us, do not be like Britain, do not sit idly by as so-called ‘LGBT activists’ manipulate words and laws to achieve dominance in your country.”
LaBarbera distanced himself from the U.S. State Department’s support for LGBT rights around the world, telling attendees (as transcribed by a Buzzfeed reporter who attended):
I do not stand with my government. I’m a patriotic American, but I do not stand with the current United States government in its promotion of homosexuality and gender confusion. But I do stand with the Jamaican people … I pray that you will learn from our mistakes and from lessons of history and avoid the inevitable moral corruption and health hazards and the danger to young people that come from capitulating to this sin movement that calls itself gay. It is almost now can be predicted with 100 percent accuracy, if the law is a teacher: If you take down this law, it will only lead to more demands. Appeasement does not work.
MassResistance’s Brian Camenker has also headlined a rally for the group.
The groups organizing the conference have opposed efforts to overturn the country’s anti-sodomy laws, which impose up to 10 years imprisonment for gay sex. Jamaica CAUSE, a cosponsor, organized rallies earlier this year to oppose an effort to overturn the law. The main sponsor, Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, also supports keeping the laws. On its website, JCHS provides a document called “Frequently Asked Questions About The Buggery Law” that attributes homosexuality to “economic reasons, direct Satanic influence, media and entertainment enticement, and experiences during incarceration” and cautions, “If determining human rights is separated from morality and based on individual freedom without any restraints, all perversions will in due time become ‘rights’.”
In a section on countries with greater freedom for LGBT people, the group adopts the American Right’s persecution messaging:
Why is it so important to certain countries, such as the UK, that Jamaica removes the buggery law?
Homosexuals in those countries have gained political power and so are able to use the machinery of the state to achieve their ends. It is interesting to note that the aim in these countries is not just that the buggery law is repealed, but that all types of sexual behaviour, including pedophilia and bestiality, should be eventually legalized as alternative sexual orientations. Further, the removal of the buggery law often results in attacks on freedom of speech and religion so that those who speak out against homosexuality are discriminated against and victimized. They want all types of sexual behavior to be legal.
JCHS defends Jamaica’s anti-sodomy, or “buggery,” law this way:
Since the buggery law is difficult to police shouldn’t it be removed from the books? Laws have multiple roles. (i) instruction on right behaviour that benefit individuals and society (ii) deterrence against wrong behaviour (iii) punishment for wrong behaviour. The law of the land bears witness to that which the state approves. This is important because this determines, for example, what can and can’t be taught to children in schools. Laws against murder, littering and traffic violations have not prevented these activities but that is no reason for these laws to be removed. Because a law cannot be policed does not mean it should be removed.
The group also provides images like this as “media resources”: