KINGSTON, Jamaica — Several church pastors in Jamaica led a revival meeting Sunday to oppose efforts to overturn the Caribbean country’s anti-sodomy law and turn back what they see as increasing acceptance of homosexuality.
Roughly 1,500 people in their Sunday best gathered in a central Kingston park for a spirited religious service, two days before a rare court challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law.
The island’s Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing on Tuesday a petition by a gay rights activist who hopes to challenge the constitutionality of the 1864 law under a charter of rights revamped in 2011.
The colonial-era buggery law prohibits anal sex and “gross indecency” between men, outlawing sexual relationships between consenting males. The punishment is 10 years in prison in Jamaica, one of several Caribbean islands with anti-sodomy laws enforced with strong backing from religious groups.
Barbados, Guyana and Grenada are among the regional countries that uphold laws prohibiting homosexuality.
Some in the Kingston crowd carried placards saying marriage should only be between a man and a woman and others pumped signs into the air saying “Keep the buggery law!” A similar prayer meeting was held in the northern city of Montego Bay.
A religious group called Prayer 2000, led by the Rev. Naila Ricketts, spearheaded the meetings. Pastors spoke about the power of prayer and the need to transform Jamaica as petitions were circulated urging the government not to abolish the anti-sodomy law. A gospel music band performed while the participants enthusiastically clapped, swayed and sang under the hot afternoon sun.
“We need our politicians to know that we need them to walk the path of righteousness,” said Eleanor Johnson, who said she traveled from Jamaica’s southern Clarendon parish to participate…
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