Saturday, December 13, 2014

Right-Wing American Figures to Speak at Jamaican Conference

Today, anti-gay figures from the U.S. joined their Jamaican counterparts for a conference in Kingston, Jamaica. The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, the Jamaica Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, and Jamaica CAUSE hosted International Human Rights Conference 2014, with "The Family as a Strategy for Development" as this year's theme. The Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society has advocated in favor of the country's anti-sodomy law and opposes LGBTQ rights, as demonstrated by its media resources.

For those who could afford the $1500 admission fee, or for students who received free admission, the conference offered talks by Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver and Liberty University professor Judith Reisman, among other speakers. A past conference also featured U.K. and U.S. Religious Right speakers such as AFTAH's Peter LaBarbera and Christian Concern's Andrea Minichiello Williams.

Mat Staver, a prominent voice from the American Religious Right, received a dishonorable mention in Human Rights Campaign's Export of Hate report for his international anti-LGBTQ activism. His anti-LGBTQ statements have been extensively cataloged at Right Wing Watch. Staver has made bombastic statements about reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, as well as blasting bans on "conversion therapy" as alleged affronts to religious freedom.

Judith Reisman, a major voice in the anti-Kinsey movement, is the author of several books lambasting Alfred Kinsey and his research into human sexuality, including Sexual Sabotage, Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences, and Stolen Honor, Stolen Innocence. Like Staver, Reisman has promoted homophobia both at home and abroad. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Reisman was tapped earlier this year to serve as an "expert witness" in a Jamaican case challenging the constitutionality of its anti-sodomy statute. She came under fire last year from LGBTQ rights advocates when she was scheduled to speak before Croatian parliament. (Hat tip to Bartholomew's Notes on Religion.)

Jamaica has earned a reputation as a hostile place for the LGBTQ community, where anti-gay legislation, homophobic violence, and homelessness are among the challenges faced by LGBTQ Jamaicans. Unfortunately, the American Religious Right has a history of promoting homophobia in Jamaica, and given their past statements, I worry that Staver and Reisman may do the same.

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch and Human Rights Campaign.)

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