By Anna Gaskell Observer Staff Writer Caribbean culture seems to be proud of hating gay people. Gay men are still called “anti-men.” Consensual sex between two men is illegal. According to one Nevisian politician, one of the rare times the NRP and the CCM supported each other was when they barred the entry of a gay cruise boat into Nevis, in March 2005. The people on board were told they were not even allowed to swim in our waters. The boat party was told that because Nevis is a “Christian society”, the presence of gay people on the island would be an affront to Nevisian Christian morality. The affront to my morality is that we are still treating people with scorn and ridicule just because of their sexuality. By turning that boat away, the message the government sent to Nevisian citizens was that homophobia is an acceptable part of Caribbean society. Why, when we have we come so far in pushing for equality for all people, do we stop short here? Homosexual acts between consenting adults is severely penalised in St. Kitts and Nevis. According to The Revised Laws of the Federation, the punishment can be up to ten years in prison. How can our constitution claim to uphold “freedom of expression”, “freedom of association”, and the right to “personal privacy”, while at the same time denying these rights to a certain group of people? I am not talking about criminals and rapists. I am talking about people who simply want a chance at happiness in a relationship. The same chance that we all hope for. I know people will point to The Bible and say sodomy is a crime. But The Bible also says, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” This means that as long as your neighbour is not harming you or anyone else, just let them be happy. You don’t have to embrace their expression of love, but nor does it have to affect you either. By criminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults, the Federation reinforces a culture in which a significant portion of the citizens need to hide from the rest of the population out of fear. In a court case in 1994, in which a gay man protested the Australian laws that criminalised homosexual activity, the UN Human Rights Committee found that such laws “violate both the right to privacy and the right to equality before the law without any discrimination.” The UN Human Rights Committee also stated that such laws “run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention” by driving marginalised communities underground. The gay man won his case. We should be beyond treating people differently because of their sexuality. But if you want to continue ridiculing or hating gay people because either your religion or your conscience tells you that they”re not normal, I have a question for you: Can that hatred really be what your religion and conscience tells you to feel? If you want to honour God, then spread happiness. And share it with all those who seek it.
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