The ‘ex-gay’ religious movement has expanded beyond its American origins throughout the world.
Despite its evident shrinking in the US, with reports that the oldest ex-gay group Exodus International is on the verge of “social and financial oblivion” and widespread mockery of ‘therapy’ operators like Michele Bachmann’s husband, in the rest of the world it is growing.
Reports emerged in October of over 200 ‘ex gay clinics’ in Ecuador, some of which activists had managed to get closed after the torture they were practicing was exposed. It also emerged that the Hong Kong government is paying for so-called Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy (SOCT) for LGBT citizens.
In Uganda, it is US ‘conversion therapy’ Christianist evangelists who have been behind those pushing the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill. Because of them, the idea that ‘the gay’ can be cured is widely believed throughout Africa.
Now the same lies pushed by the same American ‘ex-gay’ propagandists are finding an audience in the Caribbean.
A full page ad published in the leading Trinidad newspaper Sunday Express titled ‘What you should know about homosexuality’ has outraged local activists. They are calling for any further ads to be blocked by local media standards bodies.
Wrote local activist Brendon O’Brien in a letter to the newspaper:
They looked at this…and thought it was okay to publish? Not that something is wrong with publishing a religiously slanted ad, but one that openly discredits a community, questions their movement towards rights and even, in a sense, undermines their actual existence is definitely a problem. And this tried to do just that, and in a respectful and pseudo-scientific way as well. The publisher should have seen this and seen that it would’ve caused a problem.
A similar ad was published in Jamaica’s newspaper on World AIDS Day. The blog Gay Jamaica Watch pointed out that the false statements in these ads “would only justify the stigmas that people who experience same-sex attraction are not ‘normal’ but are all sexual defiant, mentally unstable, promiscuous and self-selecting.”
That Jamaican advert was followed up by a symposium on December 10 organized by the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship and attended by many leading Jamaicans, including two judges of Jamaica’s Supreme Court and the Attorney General, and with American and British Christianist speakers. This event was aimed squarely at fighting the growing movement for decriminalization of homosexuality on the island, and throughout the Caribbean. That movement can now count on the support of the head of Jamaica’s Anglican church, who has called for the repeal of the colonial era anti-sodomy laws.
Writes Jamaican activists Maurice Tomlinson:
During the nearly 7-hour symposium, the presenters extolled the virtues of Dominionism — the belief that countries must be governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law — and cautioned (actually, more like threatened) Jamaican Christians that if they don’t organize a counter-offensive against the militant gay agenda sweeping the world, their beloved country will be overrun by aberrant ideas “hell bent” on destroying marriage, children, and, of course, Christianity.
Tomlinson reported that “the entire proceedings were tightly controlled” and organizers tried to stop anyone offering a correction when false information was presented.
Says veteran Trinidadian activist Colin Robinson of the apparently coordinated anti-gay Caribbean efforts:
The region is in the cross-hairs of religious groups in the North who think their battles for Christian Dominion ought to be waged on the bodies of Caribbean gay and lesbian men and women, just like they have done on the corpses of our Ugandan brothers and sisters.
But Robinson also pointed out that:
In Trinidad, however, just like happened when Phillip Lee from His Way Out Ministries came a year ago, what’s happening is that heterosexual people, especially young ones, are mobilizing to say: ‘This is wrong and harmful, and we will stand against it’. They are doing a much better job than we are of creating advocates for GLBT rights.
Picture scan of Trinidad Sunday Express advert