For a little more than an hour yesterday, the streets outside the Mackenzie Market rang with the voices of dozens of Linden residents who turned out to support a march against homosexuality.
Led by self-styled “Bishop” Nigel London, of the Come as you Are Ministries, participants declared that President David Granger should not consider repealing the current laws which criminalise homosexual sex acts, while saying that engaging in such activity is not a human right.
The march was set as a direct counter to the efforts by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) to have the APNU+AFC government repeal laws which make “buggery” punishable by as much as life in prison.
Sections 351 to 355 of the Criminal Law Offences Act address homosexuality and homosexual acts as “gross indecency.” Section 352 states that any male person who, in public or private, commits or is a party to the commission, or procures or attempts to procure the commission, by any male person, of any act of gross indecency with any other male person shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years. Section 354 and 355 further state that everyone “who commits buggery… shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life.”
During the March, London and his supporters went to great lengths to equate homosexuality with paedophilia and bestiality. Echoed by his supporters, he declared, “Man and man is abomination. Man and beast is abomination. We stand for what is right.”
London also railed against SASOD and accused homosexual persons of corrupting the youth. “We will march them out of Linden. Righteousness exalts a nation. Jail the sodomites. SASOD, we silence your voice” he declared.
The march and its message seemed to be welcomed by those members of the community with whom Stabroek News spoke. One vendor described that action as just what Linden needed to show President Granger that they do not support homosexual activity.
President Granger has publicly declared that he is “prepared to respect the rights of any adult to indulge in any practice which is not harmful to others.”
This declaration has been taken by London and is followers to mean that the President has departed from the strictures of the law and the teachings of various religions.
London along with unidentified representatives of the Islamic and Rastafarian faiths took time to claim that each of their scriptural teachings denounce homosexuality. According to them, Granger could take this march as their response to his request for views on the proposed repeal of the stated laws. “The President has said he will be approaching the religious community. Well, Mr President this is our response,” London said.
‘Disturbing and dishonest’
Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD, told Sunday Stabroek that he was saddened by the actions of London.
Simpson, who has been attacked by London both professionally and personally, also had a message for London and his followers. “Sexual orientation is not a choice. Nobody chooses to be gay, straight or bisexual. We can control how we express ourselves sexually but that doesn’t change our sexual orientation. In such a homophobic society, where he and his fans are attacking me for being openly gay, why would any reasoned, rational person make such a choice?” he asked.
He further stressed that it was “disturbing and dishonest” to compare homosexuality with paedophilia, while noting that the data from Guyana’s Child Care and Protection Agency shows that the victims of paedophilia are mostly girls and shows that most paedophiles in Guyana are adult men who identify as heterosexual.
For him, attempts by London and his followers to link their opposition to homosexuality under the guise of “protecting our children” also does a disservice to children who are victims of sexual predators.
Simpson also noted that the personal attacks, which included using a picture of him and his partner as a rallying call, are distasteful and disturbing.
“I am concerned about the injury it does to my reputation, credibility and career. It also affects my personal life as my family finds it very distressing. I, most times, try to ignore them and try not to let it bother me. But I am constantly bombarded with messages from friends asking me to respond to these heinous allegations to clear my name, so to speak,” he explained, while noting that attacks on him by London have spanned more than a year.
“London has physically threatened me on one of his television broadcasts. I am more fearful about their cults, who follow them blindly and may feel justified in physically attacking if they have the opportunity, because this is what their religious leader is promoting,” he further said, as he pointed out that he has taken a number of measures to increase his personal safety and is exploring all legal remedies available to stop the personal attacks.