Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is willing to take the lead in the region on reparations and medical marijuana.

However, he says he doesn’t think a politician should lead the discussion on the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Gonsalves, a lawyer, noted that the law says a male who buggers another can be jailed for 10 years and if two men or women are involved in acts of “gross indecency”, they can be jailed for five years.

“Now this is not a matter on which a politician should be pronouncing upfront, given the nature of this social issue, but for civic leaders to talk about, for newspapers to write and talk about and for them to raise it,” Gonsalves said at a press conference on Wednesday in response to a question about decriminalisation of homosexuality.

“I am not calling for people to raise the matter of same sex marriages because I consider that absolutely a bridge too far to cross,” he further said.

At the same press briefing, Gonsalves noted that his call this week was for a discussion on medical marijuana, rather than decriminalisation or legalisation of the drug.

He said that the proposed new constitution that Vincentians rejected in a vote in 2009, defined marriage as a union between a biological male and a biological female at birth.

Gonsalves said he has heard what the various Christian groupings say about homosexuality.

“… and people have come on either side of the questions,” he said, adding, “Some people have said that they are completely opposed to homosexuality, but that you must not criminalise homosexuality in private.”

He added that a clergyman in Antigua has said that both adultery and homosexuality are sins, but adultery is not criminalised.

“But that is a discussion which the church can lead, which the civic society can lead and it is interesting that a journalist is raising it, because you may well say if all uncomfortable questions are being raised for national discussion why not that question too,” Gonsalves further said in relation to the decriminalisation of homosexual acts.

“I don’t think it is an appropriate one on a values issue like this for a politician to be involved. And if a matter like that was to come to Parliament, I suspect that what you would have individual votes of conscience, rather than party lines….”

He said he would say the overwhelming majority of people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines oppose homosexuality and lesbianism on moral and religious grounds.

“But I think there are significant numbers of people — I don’t know who whether it is a majority — … who are saying there should be a discussion about whether the law ought not to be reformed in relation to homosexual or lesbian acts among consenting adults in private are to be decriminalised.

“In other words, you still frown on it on moral and religious grounds but you say what people want to do in their bedrooms is their business; the state ought not to be involved,” Gonsalves further said.

“But that’s a decision for the society to have, not for a politician, not for Ralph to start that discussion. That’s an entirely different subject than the one I am looking at on medical marijuana which I am looking at as an industry, something commercial.”

Gonsalves said that that because of the criminalisation of homosexuality, some people have “a cover of marriage” and it creates a lot of pain for themselves and their children.

“It opens the way to blackmail and even criminal violence, because of the criminalisation,” he further said.

He said that healthcare professionals in the areas of HIV and AIDS, and Professor George Alleyne, director emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization, have been calling for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

“I am talking about consenting adults in private — that you assist in removing the stigmatisation on issues concerning HIV and AIDS as an activity which is predominantly among … homosexual males. That, of course is not the case, but the stigma exists,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves has also recently raised the issues of reparations from Europe for native genocide and slavery.

“… I know once I begin to open the discussion on reparations and medical marijuana that I anticipate that inevitably that question may come, as it has now come, and I can’t just duck it and tell you, ‘Nah, nah, nah; that is a question that I am not entertaining any discussion on and to just give a homophobic… response.”

He further said that while Christianity sees homosexuality as a sin, “we are to condemn the sin and not the sinner”.

He, however, added that some Christians would say they don’t consider homosexuality a sin.

He also asked how one would one respond to a gay or lesbian sibling who is a “good human being” in their work, interaction with their fellow human being, goes to church, and seeks forgiveness for whatever wrongs they may commit

“You are going to ostracise that person, treat that person as if they are an outcast? Jail that person?” Gonsalves said.

Meanwhile, head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache has called, in the past, for a change in attitude to homosexuality in light of the fact that tourism is the main revenue generator here.

Beache spoke of gay cruises and the revenue they are likely to generate.

When reminded of this fact and the reality that in this regard, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, like medical marijuana, also has an economic dimension, Gonsalves said: “The matter for medical marijuana is a direct issue of commerce and it’s not even at the first remove or the second remove, in the way in which you may address the question of lesbians and homosexuals who are tourists.”

He said that gay and lesbian visitors to this country would be expected to respect the nation’s customs and values.

“It’s an area where you have to balance issues with respect and tolerance.”

Asked how he would vote if a motion on the decriminalisation of homosexuality were brought to Parliament and lawmakers were encouraged to vote on conscience, Gonsalves said:

“I would listen to my constituents and listen to my conscience when that moment arise.”

Told that he is avoiding the questions, Gonsalves said, “I am not avoiding the question. I am telling you I will listen to my constituents and I would listen to my conscience when it arises.

“… If I were to tell you where my conscience lies, I would preclude a lot of debate and discussions. But what is more important is for you to have a discussion as to how Ralph’s conscience is,” the Prime Minister said.

7 replies on “On the decriminalising of homosexuality, Gonsalves willing to stand back”

  1. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Duck Comrade, I agree with you. Take a back seat. No votes in this one. Is how many homosexuals would come out and thank him (= votes) if he supported decimalizing homosexuality. Versus how many go get vex (= risk votes) if he did.

    Votes, plenty of them, in reparation. Stick with that. Especially when you can turn it in to a bram. The bigger the bram the more the vote.

    Fitz Huggins, way the control tower dey that you promise would start in August. You bullshitter you..

  2. My only question is how did homosexuality become a crime in the first place? Wasn’t it politicians who wrote the law? Isn’t it only politicians who can change the law? That being so, how can you be silent on the issue? Churches and social groups have no power to criminalize or decriminalize anything.

    For your edification, homosexuality is not and never has been a choice. Fornication in public, homo or heterosexual is against the law as it should be but is it really the politicians business what people do in their own bedrooms?

    For the religious among you, didn’t God give us freedom of choice? We can choose to do the right thing or the wrong thing and our only judge will be God himself. Didn’t you learn “Judge not, lest ye be judged!” ? Is Christianity the only religion allowed in your country that religious groups should make the laws of your land?

  3. Patrick, did you remember that SVLP-ULP launch of the Alliance in BIABOU in 1994?

    I invite you, each and everyone to take another look at that TV video coverage.

    Yes, INCONSISTENT ralphie ALREADY FORGET what he said in that Speech at the launch, and about potential candidates on the other side.

    His loquacious harangue then was summed up in his poor attempt at ‘singing’ ALSTON “BECKET” CYRUS’ kaiso, “I DON’T WANT ANY GAY MAN IN ME FOX-HOLE”!

    How SOON the copycat ‘call me comrade’ FORGET his LOUDLY PROCLAIMED WORDS, and poor rendition of that calypso.

    Look at that video again. It is quite interesting. SEE who moved FROM front row to back row, BEFORE THE END OF THE SPEECH.

    Dramatic IRONY, indeed.

    Is me dear Komrad now willing to permit, UNLIKE kaisonian Becket, ” a gay man” in which ever REVISED political “hole”?

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to DECEIVE.

    Guys, I guess that NDP and Dr. Kenneth JOHN are correctly predicting a SOON-COME General Elections – – – maybe with a test-case Bye-election first??

    The opportunistic POLITRICKAN political fraud is SUDDENLY offering ‘goodies’ left, right, and centre.

    I-man DON’T WANT ANY GAY-MAN IN ME FOX-HOLE.

    My sincere, heartfelt QUESTION for those fellows of the homosexual persuasion:

    IF YOU ARE CORRECT.

    And, ALl of US ‘tun HOMOsexual and LESBIE, wey go ‘appen to the population of SVG and the WORLD in THE NEXT ONE HUNDRED YEARS?

    IS it rational and logical to conclude that TOTAL HOMOSEXUALITY LEADS ULTIMATELY TO TOTAL GENOCIDE OF THE VINCENTIAN RACE, AND THE HUMAN RACE?

    HOMOSEXUALITY leads to GENOCIDE AND COSMOCIDE, like all the other means of global mass extinction.

    Quid, pro, quo?

  4. I think he has actually deep down got a soft spot for homosexuals, that is why he has employed a few of them, and knowingly in at least two instances that I know of.

    No I am not saying that he is one himself, at least I have never heard such.

    FERRARI, you are quite right he has to think about the votes, so he would not admit knowing or befriending homosexuals, they are closet poof’s, and he is a closet friend of poof’s.

    No disrespect meant to anyone.

  5. Why do I smell an election breeze in the air? Ralph is not waiting for 2015 because the airport will not be completed for 2015 or 2016 or even 2017. He’s trying to pick on a topic he thinks will carry the day for him.
    I was told today of a planned for a reparation march. What is the purpose and what does it accomplish the day after? Is this part of the overall plan to address the issue? Is this how the issue would be explained to the population?
    I thought it was a good idea to set the wheels in motion, to try to talk to the European countries, that were responsible for the treatment to our forefathers – not Ralph’s. Where is the reparation committee in all of this? This march is like force-feeding a young child with food it’s not accustomed to. It would take time for people to know what happened and for the youths to get to know; the life their forefathers had to endure, which is very much different from what they are faced with now.
    This is no way to educate the population about what happened and why they should support the drive for reparation. This is not an issue for the yellow or red shirt propaganda machine rither. It’s an issue that the entire population should support, once they are given a true picture of our History. A History that has more holes that a strainer. We are still learning more facts about our history, than what was placed before us in some History books.
    This is the reason why I am asking for the committee to do their research, and then go into the towns and villages, to explain to people, what happened to their forefathers and why we should demand an apology from the countries that perpetrated those crimes against our race.
    Reparation, like the airport will take time and it needs much more planning to include the entire population. Right now it seems like a political gimmick.
    Let’s hope my informant was wrong with this march, because most people may see it for what it is, a political football.

  6. On the issue of homosexuality: It falls into the same category like the Muslims demand for special treatment in foreign lands, not their home country. They would be stoned or imprisoned, if they talk or act against anything that not addressed in the Koran. Yet they want others to recognize their way of life and be treated differently. It’s not going to work and it causes too much contention.
    I agree that each person has the right to do and act as he or she pleases, as long as it reasonable and in the right taste. Some homosexuals want to wear a badge on their shoulder and have other people admire and praise them for it. I know of many village rams who don’t go around telling others of the life style. There is no need for it. Whatever two consenting adults do in their bedroom is none of the government or anybody else bloody business.
    There is no reason to bring ones’ private life into the open, unless one wants to brag about it. There is no reason to wear your sexuality on your shoulder. No one will win in a debate on sexuality. Let’s just allow each person to live by their own standards and keep their life style to themselves.

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