March 23, 2017 at 10:44 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Caribbean pastors ask U.S. to stop promoting LGBT rights abroad

Bahamas, gay news, Washington Blade

Nearly 300 religious officials from the Bahamas, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Maarten have asked President Trump to end U.S. efforts in support of LGBT and intersex rights abroad. (Photo by Bryce Edwards; courtesy Flickr)

Nearly 300 religious officials from the Caribbean and Guyana have urged the U.S. to no longer promote LGBT and intersex rights abroad.

The 289 ministers who are from the Bahamas, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana made the request in a letter they sent to President Trump on Jan. 31.

“We write to you as concerned Christian ministers and churches from the Caribbean region (including the Bahamas) who hope and pray that the United States, under your leadership, will once again cast a light from ‘The City upon a Hill’ of which your American forefathers and President Ronald Reagan so frequently spoke,” reads the letter. “Sadly, during recent years, that City has too often cast shadows instead of light.”

“We refer specifically to the policies of the U.S. State Department and other government agencies involved in foreign policy that have undertaken to coerce our countries into accepting a mistaken version of marriage,” it continues.

The letter specifically notes the appointment of Randy Berry as the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBT and intersex rights in 2015 was central to “the promotion of same-sex marriage” in American foreign policy. It also questions then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2011 speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in which she said “gay rights are human rights.”

“We have our rights by virtue of being human beings and not by anything else — not our ethnicity, not our religion, not our race, not our tribe and certainly not our sexual orientation,” reads the letter.

The letter also points out to Trump that “several of your government agencies” are “using executive orders to foist transgender confusion through the bathroom issue on your public schools by threatening the loss of federal funds.”

“Please understand that this same kind of coercion is being used against our countries to force us to fall in line with the entire same-sex agenda,” it reads.

The Obama administration last year advised public schools that Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 requires them to allow trans students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Trump rescinded this guidance on Feb. 22.

Guyanese group receives grants through Global Equality Fund

The promotion of LGBT and intersex rights abroad was a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy during Obama’s second term. The promotion of marriage rights for same-sex couples internationally was never a publicly articulated part of this strategy.

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination, a Guyanese advocacy group known by the acronym SASOD, has received grants through the Global Equality Fund, a public-private partnership the State Department manages with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in the Guyanese capital of Georgetown also meet with SASOD staffers and support their efforts.

Dennis and Judy Shepard met with LGBT rights advocates, parents and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago in 2014. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has also supported HIV/AIDS programs in the country.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. St. Maarten recognizes same-sex marriages that are performed in the Netherlands.

Ministers’ letter is ‘appalling’

Steven Anderson, who was deported from Botswana last September, traveled to Guyana earlier this year. The anti-LGBT pastor from Arizona who has said gays and lesbians should be killed and described the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., as “disgusting homosexuals,” claims a hotel in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, cancelled his reservation earlier this month.

Activists in the region with whom the Washington Blade spoke on Wednesday criticized the pastors who wrote to Trump.

“It’s appalling that they are pandering to President Trump — a head of state who has demonstrated nothing but prejudice and intolerance towards entire communities, immigrants and Muslims especially,” said SASOD Managing Director Joel Simpson.

Erin Greene, an LGBT and intersex rights advocate in the Bahamas, agreed.

“The statement and petition is a desperate move by a once powerful structure in Caribbean societies,” she told the Blade. “The Christian church was once the center of Caribbean societies, and now, these pastors are grasping to retain power and relevance as they are being stripped of their influence in policy making and national development.”

“In fact, they would be fulfilling their Christian mandate by denouncing the exportation of anti-LGBTI hate speech to the region, and asking President Trump to focus on foreign policy initiatives that prevent the spread the of U.S.-based religious terrorism in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Global South,” added Greene.

Bahamas Transgender Intersex United President Alexus D’Marco echoed Greene’s criticism while defending Obama, Clinton and Berry’s appointment.

“It is inconceivable that these ‘Christian’ reverend gentlemen and gentle ladies could not find the love of Christ in the hearts,” D’Marco told the Blade.

A State Department spokesperson on Friday said “protecting universal human rights is at the core of U.S. foreign policy.”

“All people should be protected from discrimination and violence, and must be allowed to exercise their human rights, including their rights to the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion or belief,” the spokesperson told the Blade.

The White House did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Gridlock

    I guess they don’t like LGBT people vacationing constantly on their islands and propping up pretty much the only economy they have with their dirty gay money.

  • Willem Kraal

    Well we will now change our vacation plans and go to Hawaii instead!
    Ok friends spread the new “resist the Tangerine Messiah now!

  • Robb Sawyer

    These pastors do NOT represent Christianity (good). They represent Christendom (bad).
    Big difference.
    These pastors represent the Orthodoxy that is “what is wrong” in the Caribbean. There is a movement to reform and transform the Caribbean. See here: http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=10216

  • lnm3921

    I never cared for any of those destinations. Guyana? Isn’t that Jim Jones’ playground for Kool-Aid mass murder?!! St. Marteen, isn’t that a Dutch Possession? The Netherlands does not discriminate!

    We should spend our money where we are welcomed and treated with dignity and respect!

    • Don Davenport

      Just walk down the street in
      almost any major European city hand-in-hand with your partner and see how rosy and tolerant things have become. If you do that in Molenbeek, Belguim, your likely will not come out alive. In fact, years ago a Washington Blade employee and his partner were attacked in Amsterdam (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-gay-newspaper-editor-beaten-in-attack-54285707.html).

      Oops I better shut-up, as I’ll be accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia”.

      • lnm3921

        I recall the hate crime in Amsterdam you are talking about. Chris Crane I believe was attacked by Moroccans who immigrated to the Netherlands. Even though the Dutch were outraged, Crane was urging people to forgive and show tolerance where none was shown to him.

        Hate crimes against GLBT can come from anyone including white Christian men and women. I’ve witnessed it first hand! It’s still no safe bet that you can walk hand in hand in America as a same gender couple without harassment or violence!

        • Don Davenport

          “Morrocans” eh. You can be sure they weren’t Morrocan Baptists.

          • lnm3921

            I have no problem admitting that Muslims can be a threat so why can’t you admit that Christians can be, too?
            It’s religious extremism that is the problem not one particular religion. If they oppose GLBT then they are a concern! PERIOD!

          • BEARY FLINTSTONE

            You”re aguing with a fake profile….LOL

          • lnm3921

            Says the Fred Flintstone wannabe!!! That and you are a Yabba Dabba Don’t!

          • BEARY FLINTSTONE

            I was NOT referring to you as the fake profile! Pay close attention next time!

          • lnm3921

            OK. I see now what you meant. Fake or not, it’s still a post. Someone is posting the comment.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/39217de869622bbcf8f9b553c213eeebda6c2302168e20fe6d2e5d3ded5a3611.jpg

          • BEARY FLINTSTONE

            And they’re also trolling for unnecessary debating

          • Don Davenport

            When was the last time any proclaimed Christians threw gays off buildings or stoned them in public? In Islam devout followers do those things practically on a weekly basis because their ideology’s founder commanded it.

          • lnm3921

            You keep talking to us about something that has only happened in a Muslim Country under the likes of ISIS or Sharia law. If your intent is to use fear and hysteria to have people support the GOP, then you’ve failed! It’s NOT going to work!

            Short of Deporting every single Muslim in the US, which is NEVER going to happen as even the GOP would oppose that, there is NOTHING the GOP can do to prevent someone from committing violence in the name of ISAM!

            They throw people over buildings on a weekly basis? Really? Show us proof that they do that weekly! But even if they do, so what we live in America not there!

            Why should we worry? You’re carrying guns aren’t you? You argue that deters and prevents crime. Fine.
            Then you can shoot them accordingly when they try and throw you off the Empire State Building or Washington Monument!

            Gay people have always lived under a threat of violence. This is just another manifestation of it. What you are really saying to me is that living under religious laws instead of secular ones are the real threat to gay people in America!

            Are Christians throwing people off of buildings? Well, Apparently according to you they don’t have to bother because the Muslims are doing it for them! Christian Pastors like Steven Anderson are happy they are!

          • Don Davenport

            Sharia law is Islam. The vast majority of Muslims support it, even those living in the US.

            So since there is nothing one can do to prevent Islamic terror attacks, I guess we let them happen, hope they happen to someone else and just accept it as life in the big city. At least the candle and teddy bear manufacturers will remain in business. And of course we can show tolerance and acceptance to those who want us dead.

          • lnm3921

            I never said Sharia law wasn’t an Islamic thing. Do you have an endgame with you endless whining over this issue?

            And what exactly do you think you can do to prevent attacks from happening? Implementing travel bans does nothing to prevent those born and raised here from becoming radicalized. That attacker in London, Khalid Masood, was born and raised in the UK and he waited until he was over 50 to go wild.

            I don’t live my life with incessant paranoia like you worrying about being a victim of religious extremists!

            Go ahead and build a bunker for yourself and live in it! If someone really wants to get you they might but life gives no one any guarantees except for death and taxes!

  • NORMAN DOSTAL

    a BLACK bigot?

    • BEARY FLINTSTONE

      As if we do not have any WHITE ones? Look no further than our REPUBLICAN PARTY!

  • Doctor Whom

    ‘“We have our rights by virtue of being human beings and not by anything else — not our ethnicity, not our religion, not our race, not our tribe and certainly not our sexual orientation,” reads the letter.’

    Here we see a perfect illustration of the fallacy of the stolen concept.

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