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Champion public speaker  Rishona James receives her trophy.
Champion public speaker Rishona James receives her trophy.
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A speech highlighting religious hypocrisy on issues of sexual morality won at the National Secondary Schools’ Public Speaking competition in Kingstown on Wednesday.

“The one thing which completely undermines our Christian society is hypocrisy. How can a society that claims to be governed under the sovereignty of God, pick and choose which biblical laws should translate to legal laws?” Rishona James of the Girls High School reasoned in her winning main speech.

“Laws are set on society’s limits and boundaries. So according to our laws, our limit is not men and women betraying the sacred covenant of marriage and having extramarital affairs, it is not parading down the streets of Kingstown half-naked or drunk till we fall over, nor is it adults having sex with children under the age of 18. No. Our limit is a same sex union between two consenting adults. This is our Christian nation,” she added.

James, a Form 5 science student, spoke in support of the main topic, “Should individuals who claim to be LGBTQ be afforded all human rights prescribed under international law?”

She spoke for 10 minutes and 9 seconds, exceeding her allotted time by nine seconds.

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In summarising her position, she said:

“No one is asking for acceptance or celebration of the lifestyle, by any means; only for our cultural and religious beliefs to be put aside when dealing with something as serious as legality; that as a Christian society, we take a more Christ-like approach on such a sensitive issue And to remember that these laws also work for us — a population of people whose race has seen a fair share of discrimination globally.”

She captured the Main Speech category and the Impromptu category, speaking on the topic, “Exams”.

James won ahead of five other contenders, including Sharyan Bowman of Mountain View SDA Academy, who bagged the Student Prepared Speech category.

Bowman delivered an entertaining and thought-provoking speech on “Minivan Hustle” in which she addressed the minivan culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Bowman placed second overall, followed by Danielson Ferguson of St. Vincent Grammar School

The other finalists were:

Eldonte Samuel – Bishop’s College Kingstown

Vickron Alexander — Union Island Secondary School

Stephen Lavia — Intermediate High School

In her winning main speech, James grabbed the audience’s attention when she began:

“Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Labour. NDP. Black. Poor.”

She followed up by immediately saying that discrimination is nothing new and is a social behaviour which entails prejudiced treatment towards a person based on a group, class or category, wherein the person perceived as different is treated with disdain.

She said many agree that discrimination is “inhumane, base and oppressive but has always existed”.

The student told her audience, which was composed of those in the hall as well as media audiences, that under intentional law, members of the United Nations are legally bound by over 560 treaties aimed at encouraging world peace and global unity.

James, however, focused on the international bill of human rights, which consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The student said each of these declarations states that everyone is entitled to all human rights without discrimination of any kind, adding that this includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and “queer or questioning people”.

Based on her research, LGBTQ individuals should be afforded all rights under international law, “not only on the sole basis that they are human, but more so because it will create a more transparent society,” James said.

“It will better reflect the Christianity of our nation and, most importantly, it reinforces the global stronghold of peace and multilateral harmony,” she told her audience.  

James argued that a society in which everyone is afforded all and equal human rights allows for more transparency and greater honesty.

She said SVG’s current anti-LBGTQ laws and societal attitude act as a deterrent for LGBTQ individuals to be honest about their sexual preferences and orientation.

This sometimes forces LBGTQ individuals into heterosexual relationships and marriages to curb suspicion and appease those close to them, she argued. 

She questioned the Human Rights Watch document “I Have to Leave to Be Me”, which contains testimonies by homosexuals in the eastern Caribbean including in SVG, explaining why many of them hide their sexuality.

This is because of the laws that limit their freedom and subsequently how society treats them, James said.

“Some LBGTQ individuals refuse to be honest about their sexuality for fear of persecution,” she said, adding that the document speaks of a lesbian who married a man to make her family happy.

“Obviously, the marriage did not work and it caused a lot of her stress for her, her ex-husband and the child which was produced.”

In making her next point, James apologised in advance “if I unearth any hurtful feelings by mentioning the recorded murder of a known married pastor in August of 2018 whose body was found at Argyle chopped and slain in what was later revealed to be a homosexual encounter.

 “These situations happen right under our noses and we refuse to acknowledge them for fear of the uncomfortable conversation,” James said.

She said that individuals who identify as “other” in their sexual orientation are forced to be secretive and engage in risky and unsafe behaviour with sometimes-fatal effect that ricochet within families and communities.

James said these unnecessary effects could be curtailed “simply with tolerance from a society having inclusive laws which do not discriminate”.

She said one might ask why is freedom of sexual orientation “considered something so wrong that it must be restricted under law”.

The answer, she said, lies in society’s apparent dedication to religion and the word of God.

She said the church is considered “the cornerstone of life”, adding that it has been said several times, that SVG is a Christian nation, found on the supremacy of God, and, therefore, the laws should reflect this belief.

“Yet, it seems as though our Christian society is deliberately ignorant to the scripture in the bible which denounces several Vincentian social norms in the same breath that it denounces homosexuality,” she said.

The young debater quoted 1 Corinthian 6:1-10:

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revellers, robbers. None of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

She then made the point about Christian hypocrisy undermining society.

She pointed out that Christ himself did not condemn the adulterer for her sin nor the revellers who threatened to stone her to death.

“Instead, he asked that they practice tolerance and implored the lady to go and sin no more.

“As Christians, we cannot use religion to condemn one segment of the population while encouraging and condoning the sin of another just because they sin different from the majority.”

James argued that to refuse LGTBQ persons their human rights on the biblical immorality while simultaneously upholding other equal sins is not the mark of a truly Christian society.

“A fair constitution should either be completely reflective of its Christian society or there should be a clear demarcation between the church and the law.”

She said that legality brings the debate back to the documents on international law that state that human rights are rights inherent to all human beings and should not be violated on the basis of race, sex, gender or any other distinguishing factor.

James argued that despite this, certain rights outlined in Article 12 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which address mainly privacy and freedom of expression are blatantly ignored as regards LGTBQ individuals in the society.

She said this is also the case in the Constitution of SVG as it criminalises buggery and labels same sex-relations as acts of gross indecency.

The student might have misspoken, referring to the Constitution rather than the Criminal Code. There is before the courts, in SVG, a legal challenge to the nation’s buggery and gross indecency laws. The plaintiffs are arguing that the laws violate their constitutional rights.  

“Basically, our general society is of the opinion that LGBTQ individuals should not be afforded their human born rights because it interferes with our beliefs,” she said.

James extended her reasoning by saying that if “tiny St. Vincent” can say its ideology places it above international law, what is to stop other countries from doing the same.

“Others countries can, therefore, say women do not have the right to an education because it goes against our beliefs, or, black people do not have the right to freedom because we don’t think they are human enough,” she reasoned.

“That crumbles the entire foundation of human rights and threatens all the progress we have made towards global harmony,” James said.

10 replies on “Student focuses on hypocrisy on sexual morality, wins debate”

  1. Ricardo Francis says:

    She is young and lacks sufficient knowledge and practical life experiences to understand the consequences of the imposition of this lifestyle.Was she lobbied to advance this agenda?

    This lifestyle shall never become a norm in SVG.

    This is a minority and a special interest group imposing their will on the majority.

    The political and economic elites pushing their will against the majority of the population, by giving this award for this issue. Why????

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

  2. Orlando Alexander says:

    I am reading this and could not resist commenting. So I copied a portion that I think I will comment on.

    “The young debater quoted 1 Corinthian 6:1-10:

    “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revellers, robbers. None of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    She then made the point about Christian hypocrisy undermining society.

    She pointed out that Christ himself did not condemn the adulterer for her sin nor the revellers who threatened to stone her to death.

    “Instead, he asked that they practice tolerance and implored the lady to go and sin no more.”

    In the above mentioned examples quoted by the young debator, I truly understand why you quote this but on the contrary if you are pleading for the sanction of LGBTQX in our country, I want to ask this but before I do, let me not forget what I was about to say.
    You pulled a scripture from the bible that is used as a foundation for the Christian society which you rightly stated that Jesus never condemned anyone but he still does not condone it either. His words were and still is “GO AND SIN NO MORE “. This highlight that the actions that was done is wrong and “Go” is a command “sin no more” also is an order yet still free will which tells me not to do it again.
    So how can we quote scriptures out of context just to soothe our emotions and feelings.

    Meaning we all have the right to free will but it’s not ordained for same sex relationships. How can we reproduce and replenish the earth in same sex relationships?

    What are we trying to do? Confuse our people that because of our sinful desires it it normal to pollute the minds of our future generations?

    Sin is sin and I dont support or promote any of the above mentioned. we all have a choice to live the life we want, but to lobby for a collective
    implementation is forcing that lifestyle on everyone hence infringing our free will to choose.

    So in my opinion if we are going to lobby for the implementation if LGBTQ, I strongly suggest that we stop teaching human and social biology in schools and teaching our children about the
    reproductive system and reproduction of human kind, because it is impossible for same sex to reproduce.

    She also mentioned about the international laws. In all my years I honestly thought that we as a Vincentian nation was an independent society that earned its freedom from international politics, laws and influence.

    In the next two days we will be celebrating our independence day, can someone please enlighten me on what exactly are we independent from or what are we celebrating?

    Abolition, and emancipation leads to our independence- so I am as confused as much others if I am allowed to speak openly on this matter. People wise up and take apart these words individually and study them in depth. Abolition, emancipate and independent. Put these meaning in the same scripture that was quoted and see how contradicting promoting or lobbying for the freedom of LGBTQ rights in our country is.

    I rest my case.

  3. The student makes some very good points! We should all be seeking to live together in harmony. Some of the “so-called” Christians are the worst among us. Jesus was known for tolerance, the most tolerant being that ever lived! Being intolerant is un-Christian. The Old Testament is interesting. There is great wisdom in the Old Testament and great evil. Some Christians decide to accept the evil with the good and live thier lives that way without considering the difference. It looks like today’s Christian Society is in dire need of asking itself: “What would Jesus do?” instead of arrogantly following the Old Testament, sitting in judgement over others that they believe are living thier lives incorrectly. We can do our best to raise our children in a moral self-sustaining atmosphere and if it goes off-course not seek to use hatred to correct it, often that makes it get even more extreme.

  4. Those who had wished to and award young Ms Rishona James with reward in the debate for her presentation, had failed to notice the glaring contradictions in her presented narrative. This fact could only have been because of their supposed leanings in this modern conflict, between our God given Christianity and the prevailing humanism of our day.

    The humanist quote of 1 Corinthian 6:1-10, offered in support of tolerance, for the LBGT movement, and for what are thoroughly grossly immoral and utterly ungodly behaviours, are ridiculously bizarre to say the least.

    Our nation’s tolerance of some repulsive wrongs, could not in any way warrant, further tolerance of other ungodly behaviours! For the wrath of God sure remains with us as a nation in all those things, no matter what, as is self- evident in our disastrously sorry plight. See Romans 1:18-32 New King James Version (NKJV). For Immorality is immorality and ungodliness is ungodliness! A nation that departs from its God-given path could only reap the rewards for gross its errors!

    We notice this; for “…..even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; …..“ Romans 1: 28-28.

    The Humanist argument for tolerance of gross behaviours, could only bring us all torrential buckets of tears, days of weeping and much grapes of wrath!

  5. I see some in this comment section are intent on defending their hypocrisy. No surprise lol. Hypocrites gonna hypocrite and find every flimsy excuse, nonsensical argument and what-about-ism to try to deflect from the truth to try to defend their weak position.

    How at this moment in human achievement do we still not understand the separation between church and state laws?

    How can anyone who isn’t intent on being disingenuous claim that removing discriminatory legal laws against a set of human beings is somehow forcing their lifestyle on another group? One would think that if you aren’t a member of the LBGTQ community then you’ll just continue to be a straight person. Then again, maybe such persons’ sexual orientation is so precarious that the mere thought of legal equity for LGBTQ persons will turn them gay!

    One would think that a society of mostly descendants of slaves whose ancestors were enslaved and continued to be oppressed with no small help from some “good Christian principles” would be a little more reluctant to withhold human rights on the basis of “good Christian principles” . But alas, some “learned” people aren’t as learned as they think. Lol! No surprise there either.

  6. Hashtag Prince says:

    On the point of having an uncomfortable conversation.
    This makes me want to call THE CHURCH to account.

    Christianity has become a social status thing. I mean the Church has changed its true focus and purpose. It is unfortunate. The role of the church in a changing society has gone “wayward”. There is no genuine forgiveness nor real ministry to the sinner, destitute or underprivileged. That is a sad fact.

    For Example:
    A young man sins and is cast out. He is not ministered to by the Men’s Fellowship. Just a pat on the shoulder and “I wish you luck” comments. A young girl gets pregnant is is given a backseat and not ministered to – yet there is a Ladies Ministry consisting of mothers and experienced women. A Pastor is found out to be off-track in his behavior and is “cast down” – shunned by other Pastors and forgotten. Even the best of his friends retreats, he is not even given a phone call or counsel by his fellow clergymen. Is this Christian Love or Ministry? We forget that there is none righteous and that ALL have sinned and fallen short.
    A Homosexual or Lesbian may one day wake up and decide “today I am going to the House of the Lord and change my life” but then he or she reaches church and the disdainful looks and scorn given by “Christians” brings them to the point of resigning to the current lifestyle as he or she asserts,”they are no better than me!” This is really sad.

    The Church has missed the point and purpose of existence!

    God says, “If My People….” The Church needs right now to repent of her conceit and hypocrisy, and GO FORWARD FOR GOD!

    The church needs to get to the place of exercising GENUINE LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION if it is to be a place of healing to the broken and broken-hearted. THIS IS REAL MINISTRY!!!

    There are a lot of divorced men and women out there who long for Christian fellowship but will go no where near a church because of the treatment meted out by the Pastor and other church members because they did not play hypocrite in an abusive or deceptive relationship and sought or found themselves in a legal separation via the laws of the land which the bible honors. They get this treatmeant because the church has became a “face” thing. It’s all about “image” and “status”. I also discovered that sometimes you don’t matter because you are too poor or don’t have a nice paying job to push the work forward.

    Truly, judgement must begin at “The House of God!”

  7. Child you need to study the whole Bible frist you quote 1corinthians 6:1 :10 did you read
    Roman 1:21 to 28
    don’t be use as a advocate to promote this SATANIC evil, Godless wicked System. That seeks to remove Jehovah God Standards and the Christian ways set in his words out of this world if one will but repent and turn from their sin there is always forgiveness in Jesus Christ name anytime a Christian fall back to a sin this is the victory ! but the none Christian live their life not by Jehovah God words but as they feel and what brings them pleasure which comes from Satan and his ungodly unholy. ways the foundation of S.V.G is and will always be Christian Jehovah Jesus Christ his words is our Standard and not according to the standard of the United Nations and its evil Agenda.

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