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Posted: Saturday 23 November, 2019 at 1:51 PM

High Court rules on churches to join State in defending SVG’s buggery laws

Javin Johnson (L) and Sean Macleish
By: Stanford Conway,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – HIGH COURT JUDGE, Justice Esco Henry on Wednesday (Nov. 20) ruled to allow 10 churches to join the Attorney-General of St. Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG) in responding to a constitutional challenge to the buggery and gross indecency laws of that country.


    The 10 churches are affiliated with a religious organisation called the Christian Coalition, which comprises 100 churches in SVG.

    News reaching SKNVibes states that Justice Henry handed down the ruling after he had heard arguments last Week Wednesday (Nov. 13) from Meisha Cruickshank, one of two lawyers representing the Christian Coalition, and lawyers representing two gay Vincentians who filed the constitutional challenge.

    The two men are  Javin Johnson, who in 2017 successfully gained asylum in the United Kingdom after establishing that he could not live as a gay man in SVG; and Sean Macleish, who resides in Chicago in the USA and wants the laws to be removed so that he might return home with his partner.

    Johnson’s is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Shirlan ‘Zita’ Barnwell, while Jomo Thomas is representing MacLeish.
    According to media reports, Justice Henry has agreed to allow the Christian Coalition to join the lawsuit as an interested party, in which it would be allowed to file written submissions and make oral presentations, but is restricted to filing only two affidavits in terms of evidence.

    Johnson, who is said to be in his early 20s, and Macleish, said to be in his early 50s, had filed a petition in July 2019 claiming that their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution are being violated by the buggery and gross indecency law of SVG.

    Homosexuality is illegal in SVG and Section 148 of the Criminal Code states: “Any person who commits buggery with any other person; commits buggery with an animal; or permits any person to commit buggery with him or her; is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for ten years.”

    And Section 148 of the Criminal Code states: “Any person, who in public or private, commits an act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years.”

    According to media reports, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who commented on the challenges made by the two gays, said he believes the laws should be repealed and that they would be pronounced unconstitutional by the High Court., while arguing that what consenting adults partake in their bedrooms should not be punished by law.

    However, members of the Christian community of SVG are not in agreement and had decided to join the court proceedings.

    Last week, according to Searchlight, thousands of white-clad members of the 10 churches held a march and rally in St. Vincent in protest of the challenge to the buggery and gross indecency laws.

    The event was organised by the Christian Coalition under the theme “A call to Righteousness: calling our nation to God”.

    One group of protesters had started the march from Mahogany Square, Richmond Hill, while the others started from Little Tokyo on Bay Street, and both of them had converged in front the Court House in Kingstown where a prayer meeting was held.

    Moving behind two trucks that were belting out gospel music, the group’s final destination was Heritage Square.

    Some of the protesters carried placards denouncing homosexuality while energetically singing hymns.

    One placard carried by Pastor Errol Daniel of the Streams of Power Churches read: “Change of heart not change laws”, another read: “Stop crime before crime stops you”, while numerous others quoted scripture that denounces homosexual activity.

    Among the speakers at the rally were Reverend Adolf Davis, Superintendent Minister of the Kingstown Chateaubelair Circuit of the Methodist Church; Dr. Cecil Richards, Pastor of the Kingstown Baptist Church; Monsignor Michael Stewart of the Roman Catholic Church; Pastor Noel Clarke of the Layou Miracle Church; Reverend Alister Blake of Harvest Bible Chapel; Bishop Dr George Frederick of Glad Tidings Tabernacle; and Attorney-at-Law Mandela Peters.

    Speaking to the gathering, Reverend Davis said: “We are here because we care. I can take the attitude and say ‘Me nah care what people wah do’, but the love of God and Christ makes me have to care and it makes me have to care what people do in public, and it would be totally unchristian if I say ‘I don’t care what people do in dey bedroom’.” 

    He also stated that things have broken down in relation to families.

    “It is a serious problem in our nation,” he said, and added that in Genesis, God said it is not good for a man to be alone so he created a woman for him.

    “It was God’s idea to bring woman to man and to marry them. It was God’s idea and God who said let them be fruitful. So who created the family? Who started the first family? Who knows how families supposed to function and who put families in place to bless a nation? Davis asked as the crowd shouted “God”.

    Davis said that is why the march and rally was being held as God has a purpose and a plan for the family, but things have gone bad as the family is supposed to be the foundation of society; a foundation that has been shaken.

    “It has been shaken because of several things, but one of them I have to align is the LGBTQI-plus agenda. It is a serious thing. It is an attack on the family,” Davis stressed.

    The Superintendent Minister further said that when permission is given to same sex relationships, when people teach youths that they could have two fathers and two mothers, and when people teach children that they might be born as one sex but could change that, all those things are an attack on the family.

    He said that growing up, a lot of young men and women were abused and that oriented them into homosexuality, which is wrong.

    Also addressing the crowd was lawyer Mandela Peters, who said that the move to change the country’s buggery laws is an attack on Christians.

    “It is a challenge against morality, it is a challenge against God Himself, because in the essence of this challenge we are calling a wrong right and calling what is wrong permissible and allowable in the guise of human rights.”

    She noted that the persons contesting the laws would say they are unconstitutional, draconian, archaic and a relic of the country’s colonial past, but would like them to do their research properly.

    “When our criminal code was enacted in 1988 we [had already become an] independent nation since 1979. England would have repealed their buggery laws already in 1967, yet the independent parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines chose to let buggery remain on our law books,” Peters said.

    She believes that was done as lawmakers saw it as a moral, righteous and a health law, but now moves are being made to strike those laws down from SVG’s law books so that immorality would prevail and unrighteousness would come into the country.

    “We will stand up for morality,” stressed Peters, who noted that the rectum was not designed for sexual intercourse as sexual intercourse is between a male and a female.

    She said when the anus is used for penetration, a lot of health risks are associated with the practice and therefore it is not only immoral, but dangerous and should not be promoted.

    Peters noted that some persons might refer to what she is saying as hate speech, but that is not the case.

    “Anal penetration is the easiest way for HIV and AIDS to spread, yet they say repeal the buggery laws to deal with HIV and AIDS. Does that make sense?” she asked, while adding that repealing the laws is promoting the activity that spreads diseases.
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