Ministerial Foundation wants dress and behavior code for gay cruise passengers

POSTED: 03/9/11 11:52 AM

St. Maarten – The St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation made a solid presentation to the parliamentary committee for Tourism and Economic Affairs yesterday, but spokesman pastor Wycliff Smith did not stick solely to the issue of the “gay cruise,” – the arrival of the Serenade of the Seas on April 1 carrying 2,500 gay passengers. Smith used the opportunity to establish the foundation as St. Maarten’s guard dog of morality.
“We are not only about the arrival of this gay cruise. We are protesting against immorality and social ills on the island like gambling, prostitution and abortion,” Smith said.
“We are not gay-bashers, nor are we homophobic. We follow the command of Jesus Christ to love everybody, like he loved the sinner and gave his life for everyone of them. He loved the sinner, but he hated the sin. Likewise, we cannot support the homosexual lifestyle.”
Smith injected a sense of realism in his address, saying that “we cannot stop people from leading a homosexual lifestyle, but we can let them know that practicing this in the open is unacceptable. We have to guard against a public display.”
Smith said that the foundation objects against the arrival of the cruise ship under the “gay banner.” “We know that there are gay people living in St. Maarten, but we take issue with the fact that the ship comes under the gay banner. We love you but we do not love your lifestyle,” he added. “So please no public display of holding hands, kissing and hugging in the streets.”
Smith told the committee members that he would like to see a dress and behavior code for the cruise passengers, to be distributed on board before embarking. “Some of our locals could do with a dress code as well,” he said.
Committee members were supportive of the foundation’s concerns, yet they remained careful with their statements.
Democratic Party MP Petrus Leroy de Weever referred to the constitution and that undoing what is stated there would take quite an effort. “And we would be blasted for it by the motherland,” he said.
De Weever also pointed out that legislation that prohibits discrimination is not only anchored in St. Maarten’s State regulation but also in the Dutch constitution, in European legislation and in international treaties.
De Weever also pointed to efforts in Curacao to make huge investments geared towards the gay tourism market.
The general message is that there is little the parliament can do within the constitution,” the MP said after the meeting.
The Foundation has told the committee that their next step is to seek an audience with the cruise industry. The main objective will be to convince cruise companies “to tone down their marketing” when it comes to gay cruises and St. Maarten.
Other committee members danced likewise around the subject, though they allowed understanding for the foundation’s position. “A delicate issue,” independent MP Patrick Illidge remarked.

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