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Bahamian Government Defends Gay Rights
Centr-Am News, week of 12-18 April 1998
An Olivia Cruises and Resorts cruise ship was greeted with protests as it landed in the Bahamas on April 13 because its passengers were lesbians.
About 300 Bahamians who are part of an anti-gay campaign held signs with anti-homosexual slogans and shouted "no ships with gays" as the ship anchored. One demonstrator, a teacher named Beverly Taylor, said she was upset that the Bahamian government would allow the ship to dock.
However, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the future of his country is not in danger if a cruise ship with gay passengers is permitted to anchor, adding that, in his view, homosexuality is not contagious, nor is it a crime in his country. "The role of the government is not to investigate or pass judgment on the sexual conduct of adults as long as it's private," Ingraham said.
A spokesperson for the travel agency that arranged the tour of the Bahamas said the passengers had no desire to offend the Bahamians, and compared the gay rights struggle to the civil rights struggle.
The demonstration and religious service, which lasted nearly three hours, was organized by the "Let's Save the Bahamas Campaign" which lobbies for a stricter anti-sodomy law and against the arrival of cruise ships with gay passengers.
Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez distanced himself from the campaign, saying the church opposes homosexuality, but not homosexuals as people. "Our church has not authorized any witch hunt, nor any persecution or condemnation of anyone," he made clear. (El Nuevo Dia from EFE, Puerto Rico, 4/14/98; National Public Radio, WNYC, 4/13/98)