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Monday 20 August 2018
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THOU SHALT NOT MARRY

Religious leaders opposed to same-sex unions

MEN UNITED:From left, Winston Mansingh of the Faith Based Network, Archbishop Jason Gordon, Maha Sabha secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj, ASJA head Yacoob Ali, Desmond Austin of the Evangelical Council and Mufti Mohammed Haque join hands in unity against same-sex marriage which they spoke about during a joint press conference yesterday at Archbishop⁳ House in Port of Spain. PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED

IN AN unprecedented move yesterday, the heads of this country’s major religious groups held a joint press conference to categorically state their opposition to same-sex marriage being allowed in this country as well as any amendment to equality laws to facilitate the LGBTQIA community.

The group which included Roman Catholic head, Archbishop Jason Gordon; secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Satnarayan Maharaj; head of the Anjuman Sunnat Jamaat Association (ASJA), Yacoob Ali; head of the Evangelical Council of TT, Desmond Austin and President of the Faith Based Network of TT, Winston Mansingh met at Archbishop’s House in Port of Spain for the press conference. The group called on Government and the Opposition to amend the Marriage Act by way of a special majority so as to prevent same-sex marriage from taking place legally in this country. They also called for no amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act to facilitate the LGBTQIA community.

BIOLOGY AND RELIGION

The conference was facilitated by a non-governmental organisation called Rebuild TT. The religious leaders called for the Marriage Act to be amended to make it clear that under law and the Constitution, a marriage is solely between a biological male and a biological female.

They called for the amendment to be made by the first session of the next Parliament in September. Gordon said the basic principal of marriage being for the unification of spouses and for procreating of children is shared by Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities, which together, comprise the bulk of TT’s population.

“We believe our society and the fabric of Trinidad and Tobago as we know it is at risk,” Gordon said. He added that the belief that gender was no longer a fact was a “pernicious lie” that created a lot of problems for children and the global society.

Gordon said that when the US legalised same sex marriage, this country became “infected” with the belief that such a union was right. But TT is a different society, Gordon argued, and the time had come for people in society to ask what they want to become. “A very vocal minority should not be able to get their agenda through,” Gordon opined. He said the group was not campaigning against anyone but was standing for truth. Asked to respond to people who say TT is a secular society, Gordon said the laws are to cultivate a certain kind of society.

ADAM AND STEVE?

“Once you take democracy away from religion, you have very little left,” Seventh Day Adventist Pastor Clive Dottin said in a telephone interview with Newsday. Dottin said central to the discussion is the protection of society and traditional family values as outlined by scriptures. “The traditional family is under attack,” Dottin said. He said there was a post-modern agenda to “legalise everything” including abortion, gay marriage and mind-altering drugs. “I believe such an agenda is injurious to society.”

ASJA president Ali said if the good Lord wanted same-sex marriage to happen, “it would have a case of Adam and Steve and not Adam and Eve.” He said there can be no support for “Adam and Steve”. For his part, Maha Sabha head Maharaj said homosexuality is forbidden in Hinduism and there is no room whatsoever for same-sex marriage. “It has always been our position that marriage is between a male and a female to ensure nature’s law prevails.”

SOCIETY ERODING

Rev Austin said that globally there is an aggressive legal and political effort to undermine the basic institutions of marriage and family. He said the Equal Opportunity Act adequately equates to all citizens and neither gender nor sex should be redefined. Rev Winston Mansingh said if the family is eroded then the society would be eroded and there would be serious health implications if the natural order was interfered with. Asked about including sexual orientation in the Equal Opportunities Act to prevent unfair dismissal Ramsingh said there was a comprehensive work-based policy in place which would address such issues. The group plans to present a joint statement to Parliament. The meeting comes following a High Court ruling in April that the buggery law was unconstitutional, in a case brought by LGBT activist Jason Jones. That law has not been repealed.

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