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Pastor Cecil Richards. (Photo: Facebook/Kingstown Baptist Church)
Pastor Cecil Richards. (Photo: Facebook/Kingstown Baptist Church)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that in signing the Samoa Agreement with the European Union, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has not committed to changing its laws on same-sex intimacy, abortion and other traditional Vincentian values.

However, prominent pastor Cecil Richards says it cannot be denied that this is part of the “stated agenda” of the European Union.

Richards, in his commentary on Boom FM, on Tuesday, said that while many Vincentians had a knee-jerk reaction to local reporting on the agreement, he had been flagging it for two years.

“… I said watch the emerging language … and intent on two particular things that were happening: social development … [and] sexual and reproductive health rights – SRHR”.

Richards said that when the agreement speaks of tolerance for marginalized groups, disenfranchised disempowered, this includes transgender individuals, gays and other minority groups.

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“So, the language now is being framed to reflect a concern and an axial push, a deliberate push to effect these,” Richards said.

“… sexual rights — rights to determine what you do sexually, and reproductive health — rights to determine what you do with respect to the reproductive functioning of your body. In the main, if you are carrying a baby, reproducing, you have the right whether to prolong the pregnancy or to terminate the pregnancy,” he explained.

“There are, in fact and in truth, statements regarding intentions with respect to sexual health and reproductive health. And it is not just a matter of people deciding what to do with their body.”

Richards said he was concerned about how SRHR is going to be woven into the education curriculum.

“So that it is not merely an individual volitional choice, but is a part of a programming propaganda, to teach fluidity in the trans, to teach fluidity in sex, to teach fluidity, removal of boundaries in a number of traditional areas where we had set up boundaries. It was very, very clear,” he said.

SVG is among countries that have signed the new partnership agreement with the European Union, which Bishop of Port of Spain, Jason Gordon, a former Bishop of Kingstown, recently said will impose “abortion legislation, transgender, LBGTQ, comprehensive sex education, a whole range of values”.

Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Namibia have not signed the agreement and have expressed concerns about some of its contents.

However, a year before the agreement was signed, Christian Council International, an international network of Christians and conservatives based in the Netherlands, said the new deal imposes demands on African, Caribbean and Pacific states, such as legalising abortion, decriminalising same-sex intimacy, and comprehensive sex education for children, that run contrary to traditional moral values with these developing countries.

The Samoa Agreement, will serve as an overarching legal framework for the relations between the European Union and the 79-member Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) for the next 20 years.

It replaces the Cotonou Agreement and covers subjects such as sustainable development and growth, human rights and peace and security.

The provisional application of the agreement will start on Jan. 1, 2024. It will enter into force upon consent by the European Parliament and ratification by all EU member states and at least two thirds of the 79 member countries of the OACPS.

Richards noted that the Samoa Agreement is the replacement for the 2000 Cotonou agreement, which was preceded by the Lomé Convention, a trade and aid agreement between the European Economic Community and 71 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries, first signed in 1975 in Lomé, Togo.

He spoke of the evolving nature of the partnership between the EU and the OACPS – which is made up of former European colonies.

The pastor explained that each successor agreement is “a continuation of the principles, the designs and the objectives of Lomé convention”, adding that each time the partnership agreement is revised, “different things are added”.

He said that in the main, there are a lot of benefits to countries signing the agreement, adding that he was not surprised that OACPS nations have done so.

Samoa agreement
Delegates pose for a photograph after the singing of the Samoa Agreement in Samoa last week.

Vincentians should have read ahead

“… I wish our Vincentian public, rather than with a knee jerk reaction, to light up the internet with things as if it is something new, to have been reading ahead,” Richards said.

He said that two years ago, he noted that there were suggestions that the new agreement provided an avenue for bypassing governments and working with NGOs, “which back then, when I saw those statements, I said that’s dangerous.

“Because then you can have fringe groups pushing your agenda, not a centralised agenda through government,” Richards said.

The pastor said it was problematic for him that the Cotonou Agreement spoke of teenagers “‘having a right to a pleasurable and healthy sex life’.

“And that idea of ‘a pleasurable and healthy sex life’ for school children was nebulous and ill-defined as to what was pleasurable, what paraphilia, what describes what is pleasurable in sex. So that was rather nebulous and left hanging. And what constitutes a healthy sex life, again, the boundaries were removed,” Richards said.

He continued:

“Another phrase that I saw in black and white from the document, the Cotonou document, that evolved into the Samoa Agreement was this phrase, ‘the exercise of your sexual orientation’.

“So, these are things that are in the making, and these are elements within the partnership. And therefore, you would expect that if these are stated, elements of the partnership, if these are things that you saw back then in the Cotonou agreement and have been enhanced in the Samoa Agreement, you would expect that there would, at the very least, be a concern that perhaps … that there could be a challenge to our institutionalised and traditional value system.

“So that the things that were the guard rails within our society within our social life, particularly with respect to sexual and reproductive health, that this could represent a shifting of the dynamic. The prime minister said not necessarily so and he could be very well correct. Not necessarily so, but we cannot deny that this is a part of the stated agenda.”

Richards said that if people are concerned, they have a right to be.

He said that they had told a group, of which he is a member, “‘Welcome to the world.’

“All over the world, the guardrails are being removed and traditional values have been challenged. And frankly speaking, if we are to be honest, whatever you want to call it a wave or tsunami, it is happening almost inevitably, maybe imperceptibly, but it is being sped up right now, where societal values are changing. We are now living in an emerging society of fluidity of values,” Richards said.

“And I’m not surprised that that becomes a part of any agreement or any charter or any stated intention, or any aspirational writings. And maybe to the PMs point, this might all be aspirational with respect to St. Vincent because no nation can legislate for us…

“But when funding is tied closely to value adherence, it’s very possible, not mandatory, but it’s very possible that some of the value shifting that signalled in the wording of the documents can eventually seep into our society and people who have become accustomed to the traditional boundaries, and the traditional guard rails — this is how we operate as a society; this is how we orchestrate our sexual and reproductive health — may very well feel that this is going to be threatened.”

He noted the arguments for and against people’s feelings that traditional values are being threatened.

“But I would say that rather than blow things out of proportion, I would advise people … to go back to where it all began, 1975 with the Lomé Convention, see where that’s headed, how it was revised and became the Cotonou agreement. And then particular niche areas that were being added. And now the Samoa agreement…” Richards said.

Ralph Gonsalves 2
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in a Nov. 10, 2023 photo.

‘The EU has its own agenda with several things’

Meanwhile, in his comments on Monday, Gonsalves said the Samoa Agreement “is a comprehensive agreement.

“The European Union has its own agenda with several things as we know,” the prime minister said.

“This agreement is a very comprehensive agreement and it is intended in its salient aspects, which touch and concern us, to advance inclusiveness but inclusiveness within the parameters of issues of human rights, general equality, special considerations for women and girls and the young people and the elderly and so on and so forth.”

He said SVG “hasn’t signed on to any matter which demands of us that we alter our legislative provisions relating to issues such as same-sex marriages, issues regarding transgender”.

The prime minister however, noted the legal challenge to the constitutionality of the nation’s buggery laws, and the fact that the court has ruled similar provisions unconstitutional in other Caribbean jurisdictions.

“… the government is insisting in the courts that it is not unconstitutional and that in any event, the court ought not to be the body to adjudicate that but the parliament would be dealing with that particular matter,” said Gonsalves, who is also minister of legal affairs.

“I would like someone to point out to me where are the specific provisions in relation to the overall agreement of some 400 pages where some of the more outlandish commentaries I have seen, where are they represented in those terms in the agreement,” he said.

“But I assure everybody that St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in its interface with other countries, we always respect other countries’ views and the like but we have our own determination on particular matters.

“Any alterations in our existing law has to be done by our Parliament and there is no intention for the Parliament to alter any of our positions as they are laid out in our laws in relation to the controversial question touching and concerning same-sex marriages and the like,” he said.

3 replies on “Altering traditional values part of the ‘stated agenda’ of the EU”

  1. Sodom and Gomorrah have been used historically and in modern discourse as metaphors for homosexuality, and are the origin of the English words sodomite, a pejorative term for male homosexuals, “sod”, a British vulgar slang term for male homosexuals, and sodomy, which is used in a legal context under the label “crimes against nature” to describe anal or oral sex (particularly homosexual) and bestiality (sex with animals).

    Yes, these despicable acts are now rampant in little SVG but they have not been formalized or legalized, something that this new legislation will encourage.

    God hates these practices which is why he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Now we are going to legalize them, mocking God in the process.

    We will surely suffer the same fate of Sodom and Gomorrah!

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