KINGSTON, Jamaica — Two prominent U.S. and British anti-gay activists attended a conference in Jamaica over the weekend to urge their counterparts and the Jamaican government to retain that country’s colonial era law banning homosexual activity.
The conference, organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Christian Lawyers’ Association, was aimed at developing strategies to lobby against a proposed repeal of the anti-gay law.
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who said prior to her election in December 2011 that “no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation,” has suggested that repealing the anti-gay law might come before the nation’s Houses of Parliament, but her government has yet to take any action.
Jamaica has been described by some human rights groups as the most homophobic place on Earth because of the high level of violent crime directed at LGBT people. The U.S. Department of State said that in 2012, “homophobia was widespread in the country.”
On Saturday, Peter LaBarbera, founder of the Naperville, Ill.-based group, Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), warned conference attendees not to “sit idly by as so-called ‘LGBT activists’ manipulate words and laws to achieve dominance in your country.”
LaBarbera reiterated the anti-gay propaganda that has formed the basis of his group’s message: “Homosexuals are made, they’re not born.”
“The dirty little secret that the media and homosexual activists are desperate — desperate — to squelch is that people are coming out of homosexuality every day,” said LaBarbera. “This is the work of God, this is the work of Jesus,” he added, referring to so-called gay-to-straight conversation therapy endorsed by his group.
LaBarbera, whose AFTAH organization has been labeled an anti-gay “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), also told the conference audience that he was working on a book on the connection between “homosexual activism and pedophiles.”
Also attending the conference was Andrea M. Williams, founder of U.K.-based Christian Concern, who — citing last week’s announcement by British Olympian Tom Daley that he was dating a man — said gay people are not born with same-sex attraction, that it is often “caused” by “the lack of the father,” and “sometimes a level of abuse,” suggesting a link between Daley’s father’s death and his same-sex attraction.
“He [Daley] was loved by all the girls and had girlfriends, until he lost his father to cancer just a few years ago and he’s just come out on YouTube that he’s in a relationship with a man, that man is 39, a leading gay activist in the States,” she said.
Williams urged Jamaicans to turn down aid from countries such as the U.S. and those in Europe who support LGBT rights.
“Might it be that Jamaica says to the United States of America, says to Europe, ‘Enough! You cannot come in and attack our families. We will not accept aid or promotion tied to an agenda that is against God and destroys our families… If you win here, you will have an impact in the Caribbean and an impact across the globe.”
Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding told conference attendees that he hoped to raise the issue of maintaining the ban as part of a broader review of the Jamaica’s sexual offenses law.
LaBarbera isn’t the only American spreading the anti-LGBT message overseas.
“As American groups opposed to LGBT rights are increasingly finding American audiences less receptive to their message, they are moving instead to spread their noxious propaganda overseas,” said Heidi Beirich, who heads the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.
Anti-LGBT groups, including the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, have been active in Belize to support its law criminalizing gay sex. That law is currently being evaluated for its constitutionality by Belize’s highest court.
And in recent years, Scott Lively — a Springfield, Mass., evangelical pastor who runs Abiding Truth Ministries — has traveled to Uganda, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Belarus to meet with politicians and church leaders, fostering talk of new curbs on LGBT rights.