In 2006, Time magazine questioned if Jamaica was the "most homophobic place on Earth." But a recent move by Jamaican officials may change that perception.
Steven Anderson, an anti-LGBT preacher, was not allowed to board a flight to the Caribbean nation Monday, as his brand of incendiary rhetoric was deemed "not conducive to the current climate" by authorities, said a statement from the Ministry of National Security.
In September 2016, the American missionary said gay people should be "stoned to death" on a Botswana radio station, a declaration that resulted in his deportation from the African nation. Anderson is head of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, which preaches that homosexuality is a sin and governments should impose the death penalty for it.
Anderson is also banned from South Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom due to his views.
A Change.org petition asking Jamaica to ban Anderson collected over 38,000 signatures prior to his scheduled visit this month. "By calling for the killing of gay people, Pastor Andersons’ messages are homophobic and condone violence against fellow human beings and a group that is already marginalized," it stated. The petition's organizer, Jay John, called the government's response a "victory" for LGBT rights.
In an interview with The Jamaica Gleaner, Anderson expressed disbelief at the ban. Jamaica is well-known for its anti-LGBT legislation and attitudes. It is illegal for persons of the same gender to have sex with one another in Jamaica, due to colonial-era sodomy laws that are still on the books. Stigma, preached in part by the relgious community, has also resulted in high rates of violence against the LGBT community and homelessness.
"I was kind of surprised that Jamaica would ban me for my views on homosexuality," Anderson admitted. He learned of the ban en route to Jamaica with his 14-year-old son for a planned missionary trip.
"I had a connecting flight in Atlanta, so as soon as I got to Atlanta, Delta Air Lines told me that they received a notification from Jamaica that I was not going to be allowed to enter," Anderson said.
While the move has prevented Anderson from traveling to Jamaica, it has only rerouted his efforts to spread hate.
"I am planning on just redirecting to a different Caribbean country and I am still going to go forward with my mission efforts this week, but I am just going to go to a different country," he said.