T&T religious heads reject same sex marriage

 (Trinidad Guardian) The country’s leading religious leaders yesterday called on Government not to amend the Equal Opportunities Act to accommodate the LGBTQIA community, while they want an amendment to the Marriage Act to entrench marriage as a union between a male and female when Parliament meets in September.

The call was made at a press conference attended by Archbishop Jason Gordon, Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj, Anjuman Sunnat Ul Jamaat Association president Yacoob Ali, Council of Evangelical Churches president Rev Desmond Austin, public affairs and religious liberty director for the Caribbean Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Dr Clive Dottin and Faith Based Ministries president pastor Winston Mansingh at Archbishop House, Port-of-Spain, as they shared one position on the two acts they are asking Government to put into the law books.

The religious bodies, which represent 90 per cent of the Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Seventh-day Adventist population is pushing for the Marriage Act to be passed by a special majority. The leaders say they will soon draft a statement on both acts which they will forward to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

At the historic meeting, Gordon said they joined forces because they believed the fabric of society was “at risk” and they see a clear and present danger in our midst.

“The notion of a fluid gender is something that has no biological foundation and is a series of ideas …and the further along it goes is more genders keep getting thrown up into the equation,” Gordon said.

Gordon said male and female were created for marriage, which hold up society. He said when America sneezes the whole Caribbean catches pneumonia. However, he said as a nation we have to think through these issues and see the challenges it has brought to other countries while understanding what kind of society we want to become.

“That is why we are asking together for the two proposals we have put on the table… that there be no amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act and that Parliament redefines marriage to include the words biological male and biological female.”

In going forward, Gordon said hard decisions would have to be made.

Questioned why the churches would advocate for discrimination to persist, Gordon said marriage between a man and woman cannot be discrimination. He said they are not asking for anyone to be treated less than a human being or without dignity.

“To talk about gender being fluid…and you see how it proliferates from it was LGBT, now it is A, Q, I, plus, plus. Because once you open it to fluidity there is no longer an objective nature or objective measure any more for what constitutes gender.”

The leaders were asked to give one example of same-sex marriage leading to degradation of society. Gordon said marriage has been the heart of many scriptures, adding civilisation has moved away from its moral foundations into “more murky waters where it no longer understands what truth is.”

Asked if people who have gender fluid children and an open sexual orientation should return to the church and cleanse their ways, Gordon said the teaching at the church would be love, mercy, forgiveness, welcoming and to help them become the best version of themselves and open their lives to Christ. He said this campaign was based on truth.

In April, the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) promised to write the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure the LGBTI community is protected in wake of its victory in the High Court after Justice Devindra Rampersad declared two clauses of the buggery legislation unconstitutional.

But Gordon said there are laws to protect people who were fired based on their sexual orientation.

“The Industrial Court will not allow somebody to be fired simply by a whim and fancy.”

Dottin, who spoke via Skype, said they were not using hate, disrespect or revenge against anyone, insisting that families should not be undermined.

Ali said God did not create Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve in the beginning.

Religious leaders, from left, Faith-based Network of T&T president, Winston Mansingh, Archbishop Jason Gordon, SDMA Secretary General Satnarayan Maharaj, ASJA president Yacoob Ali, T&T Council of Evangelical Churches president Desmond Austin and Mufti Mohammed Haque during a press conference at Archbishop’s House, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Mansingh also questioned why laws should be changed to accept what is not right. He said research has shown that there is was no gay gene.

Austin said there was also no evidence that someone is born a homosexual.

“That is a construct we must be mindful of. It’s not a question of us versus them. What we are experiencing is a culture shift,” Austin said, adding people cannot say they want rights.

“Anybody could have a right. What we have moved away from is from absolute. We have gone to season of relative.”

He said the state has become God by regulating right and wrong, which the churches now have to deal with.

“We are not against anyone. We are against an agenda that is intended to reverse the norms of society.”

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