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Barred from South Africa, US hate preacher is denied entry to Jamaica

PASTOR Steven Anderson, of Arizona’s Faithful Word Baptist Church – notorious for his aggressive incitements to anti-gay violence – was just about to travel to Jamaica when he got news on January 29 that officials has denied him entry.

He had earlier announced that he would be travelling to Jamaica to recruit supporters. Anderson came to public attention when he gleefully celebrated the Orlando massacre at the Pulse gay club, telling his congregation: “The good news is that there’s 50 less paedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and paedophiles.”

In a previous sermon, Anderson called for the execution of gay people by stoning, claiming: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. That, my friends, is the cure for AIDS. It was right there in the Bible all along.”

Anderson, who was previously banned from entering South Africa on an evangelising trip, said on his Faithful Word events page that he was planning a week-long mission to Jamaica.

Activists called on the Jamaican government to ban the hate preacher from visiting.

A petition started by Jamaican activist Jay John calling for the visit to be cancelled attracted thousands of signatures. It said: “These are the messages that Pastor Anderson is bringing to Jamaica. He approves of terrorism, the action that the Government of Jamaica condemned in response to the Orlando Massacre.

“Clearly the Pastor has no respect for humanity and his messages go against our democratic ideals and our motto, ‘Out of many, one people’.

“Pastor Anderson’s messages attack and demean women, seeing women as second class citizens, unequal to men, discrediting them as holistic beings who are workers, academics and leaders. The Pastor refers to women as ‘home keepers and not office keepers’ and sees women who work as having loose morals.

“These assertions erase the achievements that the women’s movement in Botswana has made over the years.

“By calling for the killing of gay people, Pastor Anderson’s messages are homophobic and condone violence against fellow human beings and a group that is already marginalized.

“We the People, are asking the Jamaican Government to show leadership and stand as an example to fellow Caribbean countries to denounce terrorism and violence against marginalized groups.”

But the Jamaican press has largely sided with Anderson. TheJamaica Gleaner posted a one-sided and uncritical interview with Anderson in which he insists it is “a lie” to say he celebrated the Orlando shooting – despite video evidence of him praising it as “good news”.

He added: “I don’t think I am going to be banned, but it doesn’t surprise me that they are trying to get me banned, and maybe I will get banned, but I am at least going to go there and give it a shot.

“It’s not like what I am saying is radical; it is just that the whole world has gone crazy accepting this disgusting perversion, and I am one of the people that still have a normal biblical viewpoint.

“Over the years, there have been lots of persecutions. I have gotten tonnes of death threats.

“We have booked different conference centres and have had them cancel on us. We have had hundreds of protesters outside of our church before. We have had PayPal not process our donations anymore.

“Six different companies refuse to process donations for our church. So we have had a lot of businesses that don’t want to do business with our church.”

Comedian challeges prejudice through best-selling kids’ books

WHEN David Walliams – best known for his appearances in the TV show Little Britain and most recently as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent – published his first children’s book, The Boy in the Dress, in 2008 Christian reviewers lost no time on excoriating him for promoting transvestism and transgenderism. For example, Richard Lucas, writing for Solas – the Christian Centre for Public Christianity – said: “The blatant preaching of the book is as subtle as a brick, clearly aiming to normalise, destigmatise, glamorise, and justify cross dressing, in accordance with the author’s personal views and experiences.”

The book tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy who enjoys cross-dressing, and the reactions of his family and friends. It is aimed at readers aged eight to twelve, and is intended to teach children that cross-dressing is a healthy and acceptable hobby and not something to be ashamed of.

Lucas added: “The Old Testament law prohibited cross dressing, and I can see the sense in that. Our secular culture, on the other hand, is intent on dissolving or blurring every distinction between male and female, starting with children.”

(A year later, Walliams angered Christians again by becoming one of a handful people to reject the Bible in the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs. Guests on the programme are always offered a Bible to take to an island but Walliams said: “I don’t want the Bible. I don’t like the Bible.”)

Secular reviewers of his book showed no such hysteria, and Nicolette Jones, writing for The Times, echoed many when she said: “Everyone is on the side of freedom and tolerance by the end, for which the book must be applauded.”

As the years passed, censorious Christians found other books and films to gripe about, but The Boy in the Dress sprang back into the headlines last year when Australians were preparing to vote in a referendum on gay marriage – a vote that led to the legalisation of same-sex unions in December 2017.

What happened is that Aldi Australia was attacked by a clot of Christians for selling the book. They accused it of “pushing social agendas”.

A furious debate ensued. More enlightened folk sprang to Aldi’s defence, describing The Boy in the Dress as a “story about acceptance and solidarity” and saying that they would be purchasing it as a result of the controversy. Walliams himself stepped in, saying he hoped his book would “change the way people think and feel”.

He tweeted a link to the story, saying merely: “It is hard to believe this is 2017.”

He later added: “It is disappointing when people express these attitudes, but that is why I wrote the book in the first place, to hopefully change the way people think and feel about this subject.
“It is 10 years since the book was published and now boys go to school in dresses as Dennis from The Boy in the Dress for World Book Day. So I think we are heading in the right direction, to a world where being different can be celebrated.”

Walliams was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book programme in January 2017, and in an interview with host Mariella Frostrup expanded on his liberal attitude towards homosexuality and transgenderism.
He emphasised that he wanted to open children’s minds to a range of social issues, ranging from crime to Alzheimer’s disease.

At one point he described going to a gay friend’s wedding where his three-year-old son was the ring bearer. He said it was great to see so many children at the same-sex ceremony, and that he doubted that any of the kids at the event would grow up to be prejudiced against LGBT people.

Since writing The Boy in the Dress, Walliams has written nine other children’s books, the latest being Bad Dad.

Seeing Oscar Wilde through Catholic-tinted specs

WHEN it was announced last year that a “secular temple” devoted to Oscar Wilde had opened in the basement of a New York church, the Telegraph reported that the project – 20 years in the making by American artists David McDermott and Peter McGough – had been created “to honour a trailblazer of gay rights”.

But if you go to IgnatiusInsight.com – established to assist readers “who wish to learn more about the Catholic Church and her teachings, beliefs, practices, and history” – you will find an interview with Joseph Pearce, a British neo-Nazi-turned-Catholic who, in 2015, published a biography called The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, in which he insists that it is wrong to call Wilde “a gay icon.”

Here are the opening paragraphs from the interview:

IgnatiusInsight.com: In the Preface to The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, you write that he “died a pariah” and “was scorned by the world.” But today he is “the adored and idolised icon of a growing cult.” How has that transformation come about?

Joseph Pearce: Basically it goes to show the summersaults that modern culture has made in the last century. Victorian society tended to be prudish and so Wilde, after his fall from favour, was looked upon as a pariah and his works stopped being read. He ended up being looked upon in such a bad way by his contemporaries.

Today the same mistake is being made: Wilde’s work is being judged by the man, not the man by his work. All the things he was detested for in Victorian society – homosexuality, debauchery, and hedonism – have become the things that he is idolised for in our day. He has become a “gay icon.”

It is unfair because Wilde had a lifelong love affair with the Catholic Church. His art is always overtly moral and the morality is overtly Catholic in nature. He is a timeless Christian writer. As a man he never came out of the closet and throughout his life he experienced much guilt about his homosexuality; he always felt that was his bad side. This was the case in The Picture of Dorian Gray, which shows that when you kill your conscience, you kill your soul. Wilde was such a religious man that when he enters the Church on his deathbed, it really is the logical end and culmination of his life.

After the book was published, a number of media reports claimed that it had the effect of turning Wide devotees against the Anglo-Irish genius. Some gay rights activists reportedly said that they had no idea that Wilde, as portrayed by Pearce, was a self-loathing homosexual whose devotion to Catholicism would never have allowed him to become a trailblazer and that they could no longer regard him as a champion of gay rights.

However, according to Wikipedia, Wilde was “likely” to have been a member of England’s first homosexual rights group, the Order of Chaeronea, founded by George Cecil Ives. In 1893, shortly after meeting Wilde, Ives – a friend of Wilde’s whose diaries contain many details of the writer’s life – founded the secret society with the aim of promoting “the Cause”. The society was named “after the battle where the male lovers of the Theban Band were slaughtered in 338 BC”.

The “Rules of Purpose” stated that the Order was to be “A Religion, a Theory of Life, and Ideal of Duty”, although its purpose was primarily political. Members of the Order were ‘Brothers of the Faith’, and were required to swear under the “Service of Initiation”, that “you will never vex or persecute lovers” and “that all real love shall be to you as sanctuary.” The group was male dominated, but did include a few lesbian members. At its peak “the Elect” numbered perhaps two or three hundred, but no membership lists survive. Oscar Wilde was, however, likely an early recruit, along with Lord Alfred Douglas “Bosie”.

Ives was keen to stress that the Order was to be an ascetic movement, not to be used as a forum for men to meet men for sex, although he accepted a degree of “passionate sensuality” could take place. He also believed that love and sex between men was a way to undermine the rigid class system, as a true form of democracy.The secret society became a worldwide organisation, and Ives took advantage of every opportunity to spread the word about the “Cause.”

In Ives’s words: “We believe in the glory of passion. We believe in the inspiration of emotion. We believe in the holiness of love. Now some in the world without have been asking as to our faith, and mostly we find that we have no answer for them. Scoffers there be, to whom we need not reply, and foolish ones to whom our words would convey no meaning. For what are words? Symbols of kindred comprehended conceptions, and like makes appeal to like.”

Alison Gingeras, who organised the project at New York’s Church of the Village, clearly does not see Wilde though Pearce’s Catholic-tinted specs. She said in the Telegraph report: “He invoked all of us to rebel, that it was the inherent quality of human beings to be rebellious, to move society, to be individual.

And in a Vox.com report she added: “I think Oscar Wilde transcends identity politics,” pointing to what she saw as his history of progressive values throughout his life. “[He represents] the inherent quality of human beings to be rebellious.”

She noted that in the 1970s, “Avenge Oscar Wilde” had become a mantra of LGBTQ liberation. Perhaps, she said, it was time to resurrect it.

“Forget ‘Resist,’’ she joked. “Let’s bring back ‘Avenge Oscar Wilde.’”

For the temple’s creators, Wilde is an “elder” in a tradition far broader than the fight for LGBTQ equality. Rather, they see him as an iconic representative of the right to define – and defend – one’s own identity, regardless of societal pressure to the contrary.

The official Oscar Wilde Temple’s website, adds: “Wilde’s example as an enemy of homophobia remains a bellwether of modern activism and is the basis for McDermott & McGough’s installation, which combines painting, sculpture, and site specific elements in a functioning environment that recalls the beautiful and provocative sensuousness of the Aesthetic Movement Wilde championed.”

Vox.com reported that McDermott and McGough had created “a religiously themed installation” at the centre of which is a statue of Wilde. This makes him “a figure of worship whose name has become synonymous with LGBTQ liberation.

“A series of paintings modeled after the traditional Christian stations of the cross – representing different moments in Jesus’s trial and crucifixion – tell the story of Wilde’s 1895 trial for ‘gross indecency’ (ie, homosexuality) and subsequent two-year imprisonment. In each panel, all of which are modeled after then-contemporary newspaper engravings of the trial, Wilde sports the gilded halo of Christian iconography.”

Pearce has a somewhat different view of Wilde’s prosecution. In his Ignatius interview he said: “People today think that Wilde was persecuted for his homosexuality. No, he was not! It was almost unheard of for people to be charged with sodomy in Victorian England.

“Wilde was having a homosexual relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, whose father, the Marquess of Queensberry, became enraged, left a card for Wilde: ‘To Oscar Wilde, posing as a Somdomite [sic].’ Infuriated, Wilde had Queensberry arrested and charged with criminal libel. It was a huge mistake. Wilde failed in his libel case and the evidence brought forward by Queensberry about Wilde’s homosexual activities essentially forced the government to prosecute Wilde.

“So Wilde was brought down by his own stupidity, not because he was unjustly persecuted. There’s the moral of The Picture of Dorian Gray: Kill your conscience, kill your soul. Wilde, in fact, called his homosexuality his ‘pathology’, his sickness.”

But For the temple’s creators, according to Vox’s Tara Isabella Burton, “Wilde is an ‘elder’ in a tradition far broader than the fight for LGBTQ equality. Rather, they see him as an iconic representative of the right to define – and defend – one’s own identity, regardless of societal pressure to the contrary.”

According to a Vice report, McDermott and McGough’s see him as an iconic representative of the right to define – and defend – one’s own identity, regardless of societal pressure to the contrary.”

The Vice website said McDermott and McGough’s Oscar Wilde Temple also commemorates those who were murdered or died for their “sins”, among them Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay politician, elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and gunned down in its City Hall; Brandon Teena, a transgender man in Nebraska whose life and death – raped, strangled and dumped in the boot of a car in 1993 – was turned into the movie Boys Don’t Cry; and Alan Turing, the brilliant computer scientist and codebreaker who helped Britain to win the war, but would be rewarded for his service with an arrest on charges of “gross indecency” in 1952, and who avoided imprisonment only by accepting hormone treatments, which destroyed his libido, and he mysteriously died just two years later from cyanide poisoning.

Turing’s inclusion in the work is a stark reminder that, in 1950s Britain, “inverts” were still considered criminals, and the artists’ summoning of 1917 aligns with a point in time, a half-century later, when homosexuality would be decriminalised in that country, and the organisers are to be highly commended for plans to bring the Temple to London, where it will be recreated later this year at Studio Voltaire.

This is by no means the only tribute organised in the UK to honour Wilde. Former Shakespeare’s Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole announced in 2017 a quartet of Oscar Wilde productions for his new company, Classic Spring. The Oscar Wilde season kicked off at the Vaudeville Theatre last October with A Woman of No Importance, directed by Dromgoole and starring Olivier Award-winner Eve Best (Love in Idleness). This was followed by Lady Windermere’s Fan, directed by Kathy Burke. It opened on January 12 and will run until April 7.

The other two productions will be An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, with details on dates, cast and creatives to be announced at a later date.

An adaptation of De Profundis, Wilde’s letter to Lord Alfred Douglas from Reading Gaol, by Frank McGuinness ran from January 3–6 and starred veteran British actor Simon Callow. Dromgoole said: “Oscar Wilde was more of a natural rebel and iconoclast than people usually give him credit for . . . he was extraordinary, an anti-authoritarian and debunker of all prejudice.”

He added: “It has always been my pleasure and privilege to support the voices of writers, whether new writers at the Bush, the Old Vic or the Globe, or Shakespeare, the mainspring of our theatre culture.
“This is a wonderful chance to present the work of more writers, who still speak to us piercingly and profoundly today.”

Christian hate group forces Bermuda to scrap gay marriage

IN AN astonishing about-turn, Bermuda – a British Overseas Territory – voted last December 13 to reverse gay marriage legislation just six months after the Supreme Court ordered the introduction same-sex unions. The Government replaced it with a Domestic Partnership Act.

The reversal came after pressure was put on lawmakers by anti-gay outfit called Preserve Marriage Bermuda (PMD), headed by fundamentalist Christian Melvyn Bassett. After the introduction of gay marriage PMD said in a statement that it would “continue its relentless efforts to reverse the recent court decision that allows for same-sex marriages to be performed in Bermuda and plans to keep its many thousands of supporters informed of the progress of its efforts”.

Anti-gay protesters in Bermuda

The Domestic Partnership Act, passed through Parliament by votes of 8–3 and 24–10, abolished same-sex marriage, while extending a lesser form of civil partnership to gay people.

In a PinkNews report, Rod Attride-Stirling, a lawyer who worked on same-sex marriage passage, spoke against the Domestic Partnership Act.

“There is lawful same-sex marriage in Bermuda and there have been several marriages, so the Government is taking away a right that exists.

“If the Supreme Court had not already ruled on this, then the position would be very different,” he said.

“The fact that no country in the world has ever done this should give us pause. We will look foolish and oppressive, at a time when we can ill-afford this, in the light of everything going on and the spotlight shining on us for other reasons.”

However, at the time of writing (January 28, 2018), the legislation had not passed into law because the Governor of Bermuda, John Rankin, had still not signed it.

According to a Cayman News Service report, the UK’s Overseas Territories Minister, Lord Ahmad, told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee earlier in January that the reversal was of “deep concern to us” as the British Government remains committed to same-sex marriage as a human right. Lord Ahmad said that he had raised the issue directly with Bermuda’s premier when they met just after the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meeting and that “they know of our deep concern in this respect”.

He said Britain was “clear where we stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it is the human right of any individual to have that right. That point has been made in no uncertain terms to the premier and he is aware of the British government’s position on that.”

But the peer who has responsibility for all the territories has not said whether or not the governor will assent or not.

“Our governor is the representative of the UK, and he will reflect the views of Her Majesty’s Government,” he said. Though he pointed to Bermuda’s constitution and the legal position surrounding that, he noted that the governor takes his instructions from London. “I’ve got deep concerns about what happened there.”

Last December, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “The UK Government is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and continues to support same-sex marriage. While the UK Government is disappointed with the implications of this bill, this is a matter for the Bermuda Government acting within the terms of the Bermuda Constitution and in accordance with international law.”

Kevin Dallas, CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), has warned in a letter that the law could have crippling consequences for the territory’s tourism industry. Luxury tourism is one of the main sources of income for Bermuda, alongside financial services for international firms.

Mr Dallas said: “We feel compelled to express our concern about what the negative consequences could be for tourism if the Domestic Partnership Bill passes the Senate this week.
“We believe the Bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry.”

His letter warned: “Same sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage.

“We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda.

“While we cannot responsibly estimate what the scale of those losses will be, we can point to contemporary examples that tell a cautionary tale.”

The letter cites controversies in the US when Republican leaders in North Carolina and Indiana attempted to roll back LGBT rights, only to face boycotts from business.

The letter continued: “At the Bermuda Tourism Authority, we work hard to keep our research and commentary on this issue restricted to economics. That’s our line. The consumer economics of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travel are this: $165 billion spent worldwide per year, $65 billion of that is spent in the United States alone.

“The Bermuda tourism economy, and the workers and businesses who make it thrive, deserve their fair share of the LGBT market as we all continue the uphill climb toward tourism resurgence.

“Significantly, it’s not only LGBT travelers that care about equal rights based on sexual orientation. Our research indicates many companies, consumers and travelers, including the overwhelming majority of the younger visitors powering Bermuda’s growth, care about this issue. It’s why the fallout in North Carolina and Indiana has proven so detrimental.

“While it’s not possible to project the precise ramifications of a yes vote for Bermuda, we are confident the impact will be negative. Ominous headlines signal the hazards ahead.

“The yet-to-be-written headlines could be damaging enough to derail the seven consecutive quarters of growth the Bermuda tourism industry has enjoyed dating back to January 2016.

“Tourism workers are getting more hours on the job, visitors are spending more of their money on-island and entrepreneurs are flocking to the tourism economy because they sense a bright future of sustained growth. Let’s not jeopardise that growth.

“We should send a message that Bermuda 
continually and permanently lives up to its well-earned reputation as a warm, friendly and welcoming destination.”