Retired bishop calls for reform of West Indian laws on homosexuality

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Robert Thompson.JPG
Robert Thompson

The former bishop of Kingston has urged West Indian governments to repeal their sodomy laws, saying sexuality in all its diversity is a “gift from God”.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson’s remarks were made last week at a book launch to publicize Volume 2 of the proceedings of the 2020 Intimate Convictions Conference organized by the HIV Legal Network in partnership with Anglicans for Decriminalisation.

In November 2020, the HIV Legal Network, Anglicans for Decriminalization, and their Caribbean partners hosted the second Intimate Conviction conference under the theme “Continuing the Decriminalization Dialogue.” This event was to be held in Barbados but was forced online due to COVID-19 restrictions. The proceedings of the online conference were published in book form, representing the latest thinking from activists seeking to repeal the sodomy laws common to many Caribbean nations.

On March 7 at St Michael and All Saints Cathedral in Bridgeton, Barbados the book received its first public outing.  The Rev. Clifford, the host of the Barbados event, said: “Dr Martin Luther King had it right. If we don’t live together as brothers and sisters, we perish together as fools. Don’t we see the need for more love in the world, not less?” 

Bishop Thompson told the Jamaica launch held on March 9, “Our sexuality and gender in all its diverse forms are gifts from God that should be celebrated rather than classed as sinful or shameful things that distract from our holiness or our spiritual growth.”

The debate over human sexuality and morality of homosexual activities was foreign to the Biblical world. 

“The world of Jesus and Paul would not have recognised such a task as being central to their message of the Gospel. They knew about marriage as complicated bundles of family arrangements, they knew that young males were most likely to resist promptings towards sexual involvement and generally did their best to stop it. However, they would have been puzzled to see all this brought together under a single heading or to be asked about their sexuality.”

A leader of the liberal Catholic wing of the Anglican Church in the West Indies, Bishop Thompson has long advocated for a change in the church’s teaching on the morality of homosexuality. However, the West Indian House of Bishops has repeatedly rejected any change to the church’s moral teaching on this issue.