Andrea Minichiello Williams in Jamaica

A story about Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern has been making some traction over the past few days. The website BuzzFeed has the following report.

Andrea Minichiello WilliamsDuring her remarks, Andrea Minichiello Williams of the United Kingdom’s Christian Concern said Jamaica had the opportunity to become a world leader by fending off foreign pressure to decriminalize same-sex intercourse.

“Might it be that Jamaica says to the United States of America, says to Europe, ‘Enough! You cannot come in and attack our families. We will not accept aid or promotion tied to an agenda that is against God and destroys our families,’” she said, adding to applause, “If you win here, you will have an impact in the Caribbean and an impact across the globe.”

She made the case that it is a “big lie” that homosexuality is inborn, arguing instead it is caused by environmental factors like “the lack of the father” and “sometimes a level of abuse.” She illustrated her point with the case of 19-year-old British diver Tom Daley and his reported relationship with American screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

Daley, she said, who is “loved by all the girls and had girlfriends,” had “lost his father to cancer just a few years ago and he’s just come out on YouTube that he’s in a relationship with a man, that man is 39, a leading gay activist in the States.”

Williams warned that removal of Britain’s sodomy law was the start of a process that has led to more and more permissive laws, including equalizing the age of consent laws for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse.

“Once you strip away all this stuff, what you get is no age consent … nobody ever enforces that law anymore,” she said. “We already have a strong man-boy movement that’s moving in Europe.”

She also described several cases in which she said people had been fired for their jobs for their opposition to LGBT rights and said people with views like hers are being silenced in the media and intimidated with the threats of hate-speech lawsuits. This was especially true, she suggested, when organizations like hers try to claim a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, she said.

“They hate the line of homosexuality being linked to pedophilia. They try to cut that off, so you can’t speak about it,” she said. “So I say to you in Jamaica: Speak about it. Speak about it.”

She took issue with the notion that advancing such arguments in opposition to expanding legal rights for LGBT people was hate speech. On the contrary, she said, “We say these things because we’re loving, we’re compassionate, we’re kind, because we care for our children…. It is not compassion and kind to have laws that lead people [to engage] in their sins [that] lead to the obliteration of life, the obliteration of culture, and the obliteration of family.”

Now, in approaching this report I want to be as generous as possible to Andrea, so here’s some thoughts about what is written above.

  1. The context of the conference is a discussion in Jamaica about repealing the anti-sodomy laws. In that light, the stance of opposing attempts to “decriminalize same-sex intercourse” is a valid political position. Personally I cannot see how such a prohibition serves any political purpose, but I recognise how some people, seeing the developments in the UK since the decriminalization of consensual same-sex acts in 1967, would want to stop that whole process right at its beginning in Jamaica. Like it or not, the view that a society should outlaw sexual acts that do not have an intrinsic procreative purpose is a valid political position, it just happens to be one I do not hold to.
  2. We do not know what was actually said at the conference. The BuzzFeed report is from J Lester Feder who is described as a foreign correspondent, but take one look at his feed of stories and you very quickly realise that he is only interested in one kind of foreign stories. This should set our alarm bells ringing. We only have reports of small parts of Andrea’s speech and we have no independent confirmation of the content.
  3. The main complaint of Changing Attitude is

    “Williams’  bigoted outburst amounts to dangerous hatemongering.  It is reprehensible and highly irresponsible.

    Hmmmm…. Really? The problem with the report is that we don’t have the vast majority of what Andrea said. We don’t have any record as to whether she did or didn’t condemn the anti-gay violence that plagues Jamaica (and of course it wouldn’t serve the purposes of the journalist if she had condemned it – and if she did, why wasn’t it reported?). Hatemongering is where one sets out to inflame a crowd to violence – we have absolutely no evidence presented that Andrea actually did this.

    [H]ere is a Sussex member of the General Synod advocating the vilest form of homophobia in a most terrible cultural situation.

    Once again, hyperbole. What is this vilest form of homophobia? The term is not defined. I would like Changing Attitude to come back and define what the “vilest form of homophobia” is and then provide clear evidence Andrea advocated for it.

  4. The Bishop of Chichester responded to a request from Changing Attitude for a statement by saying,

    The comments by Andrea Minichiello Williams about the decriminalisation of same sex intercourse in Jamaica have no sanction in the Church of England or the diocese of Chichester.  Insofar as such comments incite homophobia, they should be rejected as offensive and unacceptable.
    The Christian Church is widely perceived as homophobic and intolerant of those for whom same sex attraction is the foundation of their emotional lives.  It is urgent, therefore, that Christians find legitimate ways to affirm and demonstrate the conviction that the glory of God is innate in every human being, and the mercy of God embraces each of us indiscriminately.

    That’s a clever statement and good use of the word “Insofar”. What the Bishop condemns is the inciting of homophobia, but he’s very careful not to directly accuse Andrea of doing so. He’s also very careful to not come out on a particular line on the roots of homosexuality – “those for whom same sex attraction is the foundation of their emotional lives” is a statement that accepts that there are some people who are homosexual without buying into an environmental causation theory or the notion people are “born gay”. Well done +Martin.

  5. Having said all this, it would be really good, really really good, if Christian Concern could clear up the reported statement, “They hate the line of homosexuality being linked to pedophilia”. I think we need to know from Andrea,
    (a) Did she say that?
    (ii) If so, what did she mean by that?
    It is a common slur to link homosexuality to paedophilia. Whilst it is true that recently reported rates of abuse by males of boys compared to girls make the ratio around 1:3 (so around 25% to 30% of those abused are “homosexual abuse” – eg Blanchard et al.,1999), it is not necessarily true that those adult males who abuse male children are themselves homosexual (e.g. Sgroi 1988). That doesn’t negate the fact that male same-sex child abusers (i.e. those men who abuse boys) have a higher recidivism rate than other abusers, but the notion that these are all specifically gay men is unsupported by the evidence. Furthermore, implying that all men who engage in same-sex child abuse are gay is the same kind of reductionism of sexual orientation and identity that it’s proponents reject in other places (“People aren’t really gay”).
    It was also suggested to me last night that Jamaica has a particular issue with male same-sex child abuse (and therefore Andrea’s comments were given in that context). That may very well be true, but we would still need some evidence that there is a particular problem with gay people in Jamaica committing these crimes.

In summary, we have one report from a man who obviously has an axe to grind. Then, based on this one uncorroborated report some people have jumped to a number of conclusions as to what Andrea Minichiello Williams intended by her speech (of which we only have snippets). It’s not good enough I’m afraid.

However, having said all that, it would be really useful if Andrea could clarify exactly what she said at the conference and what she meant by homosexuality being linked to pedophilia (if she even said that).

Thoughts?

Please be careful in your comments – let’s remember that this is an uncorroborated report so until we have some confirmation I’m not prepared to treat it as “gospel” and I will not accept abuse of Andrea on the basis of it. Equally, if you want to support the contention that paedophilia is linked to homosexuality, please provide a link to the full text of a primary source to support your contention.

Posted in Christian Concern, Paedophilia, Sexuality, UK News