An archbishop in St. Lucia has called for the Caribbean nation to reconsider its anti-LGBTQ law after a young man there died by suicide.
Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries critiqued St. Lucia’s law criminalizing homosexuality when a debate over LGBTQ rights in the island nation erupted earlier this year, reported The Star. The cause of this debate was the suicide of 17-year-old Gervais Emmanuel, who was believed to be gay. Justice Minister Hermangild Francis then suggested the criminalization law be reconsidered.
Following Emmanuel’s tragic death, Rivas rebutted claims the Catholic Church opposes LGBTQ people:
” ‘Whoever said the church is against [homosexuals] is probably misinformed about the church today. I have never said that in my preaching in Saint Lucia. I’ve been here eleven years and a bishop for 29 years. I’ve never preached that, and I’ve never heard our archdiocese preach that.’ “
Rivas said the church “is learning and is listening.” He then commented of the criminalization law:
” ‘In so many developed societies . . . it has gone beyond debate. If it is a law that is distressful and it’s not a law that has been serving its purpose the way it ought to have served its purpose in the past, then it has to be reviewed and updated as necessary. I hope that our governments in the region will look at all the situations and do the right thing, but always maintaining a high standard of morals and values for our people.’ “
Rivas’ call for Caribbean nations to reconsider their anti-LGBTQ criminalization laws is most welcome, and he joins an increasing number of church leaders speaking out for LGBTQ human rights. Their condemnation of such laws is a recognition that when it comes to LGBTQ issues, it is the church’s teachings on the dignity of each person and human rights, and not sexual ethics, which matter most.
For a chronology of how Catholic leaders have responded, positively and negatively, to anti-LGBTQ criminalization worldwide, click here. For New Ways Ministry’s full resources on criminalization issues, click here.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 26, 2019