A petition that Jay John posted to Change.org notes Steven Anderson has previously said gay men should be stoned to death. The petition also notes Anderson has celebrated the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and has spoken against women’s rights.
The petition notes Anderson is scheduled to arrive in Jamaica on Jan. 29.
Anderson is a pastor at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz. His church’s website says Anderson will be in Jamaica from Jan. 29-Feb. 3 for a “Missions Trip.”
“Folks like this set us back in our discussion surrounding LGBT rights as a country,” John told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “Mr. Anderson’s messages are inflammatory and blatantly disregards the value for minority (sic).”
“His literal interpretation of the Bible regarding killing of gay people should not be echoed in a society like Jamaica,” added John.
Botswana in 2016 deported Anderson after he told a radio station during an interview the government should kill gays and lesbians. He also described the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre as “disgusting homosexuals who the Bible says were worthy of death.”
South Africa banned Anderson from entering the country before traveling to Botswana. The Southern Poverty Law Center on its website describes the Faithful Word Baptist Church as one of “the most hardcore anti-LGBT hate groups” in the U.S.
“By calling for the killing of gay people, Pastor Anderson’s messages are homophobic and condone violence against fellow human beings and a group that is already marginalized,” reads John’s petition that 531 people have signed. “We the people are asking the Jamaican government to show leadership and stand as an example to fellow Caribbean countries to denounce terrorism and violence against marginalized groups.”
The Blade has reached out to Anderson and the Jamaican government for comment.
Another Jamaican activist said he has shared John’s petition with the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica.
“Promoting, protecting, and advancing human rights – including the rights of LGBTI persons – has long been and remains the policy of the United States,” a State Department spokesperson told the Blade on Wednesday in a statement. “As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.”
“We have often said that the most effective antidote to offensive speech is more speech,” added the spokesperson. “The petition is an example of the open, public debate of ideas that is critical to the health of a vibrant, pluralistic democracy.”
Jamaica is among the more than 70 countries around the world in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.
Bishop Howard Gregory, who is the head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, last July said lawmakers should repeal the colonial-era sodomy law.
“What happens in privacy between consenting adults should be beyond the purview of the government,” wrote Gregory in a letter he sent to members of a parliamentary committee who are studying the issue.
Liberty Counsel Chair Mathew Staver is among those from the U.S. who have traveled to Jamaica in recent years in order to attend events organized by groups that oppose efforts to repeal the law.