Caribbean island considers ban on gay cruises

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Tourist authorities on Grenada are considering a ban on cruises for gay people from their shores.

The tiny island nation, which has a population of 103,000, gained independence from the UK in 1974. Male homosexual acts are illegal and punishable with up to ten years in jail.

Tourism Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen has said that a policy on the cruise ships has not been finalised.

“As a government, our policy is that we do not support it (homosexuality),” the minister told the Grenada Broadcasting Network.

“But are we going to put a barrier that says in any port of entry that if somebody is gay they should be debarred from coming to this country? This is my question. What does the Grenadian community want of us?”

Other Caribbean islands have had problems with the new phenomenon of gay family cruises.

A cruise hosted by lesbian comedian Rosie O’Donnell was the focus of faith-based protests when it visited the Bahamas in 2004.

Earlier this year church groups on Bermuda had promised action against visiting gay families.

A ship was scheduled to stop at the island after departing from New York on July 7th.

R Family Vacations, the company owned by Ms O’Donnell that organises the event, was said by the Prime Minister’s spokesman to be concerned about “what might occur if the cruise stopped in Bermuda.”

Andre Curtis of United By Faith had previously summed up the combative mood of some church groups on the island:

“We may just choose to pick them (the cruise passengers) up by bus and bus them to our church, to different denominations, and have the pastors pray for them,” he said, according to The Royal Gazette.

Opposition MPs in Bermuda were critical of the attitude of the churches.

Veteran human rights campaigner and PLP MP Renee Webb said:

“It’s a sad day for Bermuda, the church thinks it can dictate who can come to Bermuda and who can’t,” she told the Gazette.

“Today homosexuals, tomorrow who?”

Ms Webb said she understood why the gay cruise had decided to avoid Bermuda.

“They’re not taking a risk and you can’t blame them. They said they had 880 children on the ship. These children have been adopted by parents who are same-sex couples and the children know.

“But it’s one thing to know it, another thing to be faced by people with placards calling your parents whatever nasty names they chose to call them.

“It’s a shock, the kids were traumatised and they don’t want to go through that again,” she said, referring to the rough reception gay families received in the Bahamas.

Rosie O’Donnell has been arranging cruises for gay and lesbian families since 2004 and her success was documented in 2006 in the HBO show All Abroad Rosie’s Family Cruise.

The inaugural cruise of 1,500 people set sail on a seven-day trip to the Caribbean on one of the largest cruise ships in the world.