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2004-07-16 11:42:12

Intolerance on Display as Bahamians Protest Gay Cruise

Throngs of so-called ''Christians'' attack gay cruise visitors.

In what many people would regard as hypocrisy, hundreds of Bahamians descended on Bay Street this morning to protest a cruise ship which brought more than 2,000 gay passengers to visit The Bahamas.

These same Bahamians readily accept numerous homosexuals in their own Parliament yet they feel a need to harrass gay visitors. The R Family Vacations gay cruise ship visitors were verbally attacked and abused and the protest brought traffic on Bay Street to a standstill, disrupting thousands of other tourists who had nothing to do with the gay cruise.

One American who had purchased five tickets to an out island excursion was unable to make it to the departure dock on time due to traffic congestion on Bay Street.

"I was charged a 100% cancellation fee ($875) because we didn't show up on time. We had left the hotel with time to spare but could not get to the dock in time due to the gay protest."

Minister of Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe, waffled delicately between supporting the protesters and protecting the Bahamas' image as a premier tourist destination saying, "The Ministry of Tourism stands firmly with the Bahamas Christian Council for the protection and and preservation of our Christian morals and principles."

But he was also quick to point out that "government is bound to enforce the laws of our country." The laws of the Bahamas prevent the discrimination of individuals on the basis of religion, race or sex, despite the fact that discrimination against women and gays is rampant in the island nation.

The US Embassy has said it is concerned about the welfare of the passengers due to the widespread concern and controversy surrounding the cruise ship's arrival.

In 1998, following the arrival of of another cruise ship carrying gay passengers, scenes of lesbian couples being chased off Bay Street were broadcast across the world on various TV channels.

Erin Green, a Rainbow Alliance Bahamas spokeperson and supporter of gay rights, said she feels that the conduct displayed by the religious organisations regarding gay cruises "will have a grave impact on the tourism industry." 

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