Today’s Opinion: Gay cruise: an old story

POSTED: 03/7/11 12:03 PM

Just after a week wherein the island was shocked by no less than four murders, the United Ministerial Foundation will get an audience with the parliamentary committee for Tourism to plead its case against the arrival of the serenade of the seas, a cruise ship that will bring 2,500 gay passengers to the island.

It’s an old story and some things never change. In 2007, the same foundation came up against the arrival of another gay cruise, organized by the Texas-based travel organization Aquafest. Allowing the Mariner of the seas to dock in St. Maarten, the esteemed chu4rch leaders argued back in 2007, “is unhealthy, sends a negative message to our youth, is immoral and encourages violence.”

The way we see it, violence does not need any encouragement in St. Maarten and the arrival of a cruise liner with passengers who happen to have a lifestyle the local churches disapprove of, is not going to make one iota of a difference.

It is remarkable that royal Caribbean describes Puerto Rico and Curacao both as gay-friendly; the company has however avoided using the same qualification for St. Maarten.

So what is happening then to the friendly Island? Are we friendly, but only for people who toe the line? Do we want to be a heterosexual vacation destination?

The churches are obviously entitled to their well-worn opinion about homosexuality. But what goes for one, also goes for others. People who pracise this lifestyle are equally entitled to their opinion.

That is something the churches persistently refuse to acknowledge or to understand.

We wrote it in 2007, and we’ll write it again now: freedom stops where it intrudes upon the freedom of others.

By making a fuss about the inevitable arrival of the Serenade of the Seas, the churches expose themselves once more as intolerant.

If 95 percent of our population is religious to a certain degree, this also is true for our parliament and its committees. Its members will therefore have an interesting time explaining to our churchleaders why they have no instruments at their disposal to stop the Serenade of the Seas from docking in St. Maarten. Let’s keep it that way.


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