Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., is scheduled to be in Jamaica from Jan. 29-Feb. 3 for a “Missions Trip.”
Jay John, a Jamaican LGBT rights advocate, has petitioned the Jamaican government to ban Anderson for the country. John in his petition he posted to Change.org notes, among other things, that Anderson has said gay men should be stoned to death and celebrated the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Anderson’s church as one of “the most hardcore anti-LGBT hate groups” in the U.S.
More than 3,900 people have signed John’s petition.
“I don’t anticipate being banned from Jamaica because Jamaicans are in general anti-homosexual, but if I am banned, then so be it,” said Anderson in an email he sent to the Blade on Jan. 4, noting his church has had “multiple successful missions trips” to Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. “There are lots of fish in the sea.”
Anderson banned from four countries
Botswana in 2016 deported Anderson after he said during a radio interview the government should kill gays and lesbians. Anderson 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.
Anderson told the Blade the U.K. “banned me for my comments against Islam and homosexuality.” He also said Canada “denied me entry” last November because “they said that since I was deported from Botswana for ‘hate speech,'” the government “would not let me into the country until I got something in writing from Botswana saying that I was in good standing with them.”
“My comment on the petition is that it doesn’t surprise me since I have already been banned from four other countries,” Anderson told the Blade. “Most of the people that are signing the petition are probably not from Jamaica. They are probably LGBT activists from the U.S.”
John’s petition indicates the last two people who signed it are women from St. Ann, Jamaica, and Nassau, Bahamas.
“We are not short of God in Jamaica, he should stay where he is,” wrote another woman who signed the petition.
Jamaica is among the dozens of 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. 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.
The Jamaican government has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the petition.
A State Department spokesperson last week described the petition as “an example of the open, public debate of ideas that is critical to the health of a vibrant, pluralistic democracy.” The spokesperson did not tell the Blade whether the U.S. feels the Jamaican government should ban Anderson from the country.
“We have often said that the most effective antidote to offensive speech is more speech,” said the spokesperson.