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Jamaica ignores its own law; no ban on ‘murder-preacher’ visit

Pastor Steven Anderson
Pastor Steven Anderson

Anti-LGBT American preacher Steven Anderson remains determined to travel today to Jamaica for a week-long evangelism trip, flouting a Jamaican law that requires visiting preachers to obtain either a work permit or sponsorship by a recognized church.

Jamaican government officials have hindered or ignored petition drives asking that Anderson be barred from visiting Jamaica because he speaks approvingly of violence, which some of his followers have put into practice. (See, for example, the article “Anti-gay pastor is worse than you knew.”)

After Jamaican activist Jay John (a pseudonym) began organizing a petition drive to block Anderson:

  • John tried to set up an official petition with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The office acknowledged receipt of the petition, but then failed to publish it. Under OPM rules, the prime minister will take action in response to official petitions if they are signed by 15,000 or more Jamaican citizens.
Jamaica's Office of the Prime Minister received Jay John's petition, but never acted on it.
Jamaica’s Office of the Prime Minister received Jay John’s petition, but never acted on it.
  • Disappointed by the OPM’s failure to act, John resorted to publishing the petition on Change.org. So far, it has been signed by more than 38,000 people. But when John submitted it the Office of the Prime Minister, he was told that it would be ignored because it was not published on the official OPM portal — ironically, because of the OPM’s inaction.
  • Various Jamaican diaspora organizations and individuals then crafted an open letter urging the Government of Jamaica to block Anderson “on the grounds that his visit would violate Jamaican law, undermine the human rights of vulnerable Jamaicans, and represent an immediate threat to the peace, order and good governance of the state.” The letter was signed by 67 individuals and organizations, including the Jamaican Canadian Association, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Fundación Todo Mejora – Chile, the Namibia Diverse Women’s Association, Gay Star News, the Canadian Harm Reduction Network, the Global Interfaith Network and the Saint Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation (which helped to establish this blog back in 2012).

The OPM also said that the Prime Minister does not ban people from entering the country and that this can only be done in accordance with the laws of Jamaica. However, on Jan. 11, the Jamaican Ministry of Labour issued a statement that in order to preach in Jamaica Anderson needs to have a work permit or be sponsored by a recognized church.

In addition, the open letter cited several Jamaican laws that Anderson definitely or probably would break, including:

  • Violation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed under Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms — freedom of conscience (religion), freedom from discrimination on the grounds of being male or female, and protection from torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment. “All these rights—and many more—are now threatened by an alien American with no permit to work in Jamaica, and we urge the Jamaican government to act immediately to protect its citizens,” the letter stated.
  • Violation of Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act, which states that “All persons who shall conspire, confederate, and agree to murder any person, whether he be a subject of Her Majesty or not, and whosoever shall solicit, encourage, persuade, or endeavour to persuade, or shall propose to any person to murder any other person, whether he be a subject of Her Majesty or not, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable, to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding ten years, with or without hard labour”

“At a time when Jamaica is grappling with an exceedingly high number of murders, allowing a hate-preacher to incite violence within the country is a dangerous precedent to set,” the letter said.

Anderson has been banned or deported from Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, the UK and Canada.

The open letter urged “that the Jamaican government show leadership and stand as an example to fellow Caribbean countries to denounce terrorism and violence against marginalized groups. Given his well-documented history of advocating violence and hatred, Steven Anderson must not be allowed to enter Jamaica.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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