Is there a larger issue?

I had resolved to stay out of the current gay cruise debate, arguing that there are larger issues to reflect on in this country, matters more worthy of my attention.

As the days have rolled on, however, and the letters have poured in to your paper and the calls have been placed to the talk shows, I am left to wonder, when ministers of Christ’s gospel abuse their authority (divinely given or otherwise obtained) to legitimize hatred and bigotry, perpetuate myths about the gay community (including, once again, unfounded blame for the AIDS pandemic) and sow the seeds of discrimination, is there actually a larger issue?

When, right now in our beloved islands, information about one’s sexual orientation (whether factual or perceived) can still be used to deny one’s basic rights and privileges, is there actually a larger issue?

When government continues to give mere lip-service to the concept of diversity and human rights, while pandering to the far-right with promises to protect so-called traditional values, is there actually a larger issue?

No: when liberty is negotiable because hatred and discrimination are acceptable, there is no larger issue. 66.9 per cent of those who responded to your poll regarding the gay cruise issue seem to agree. If so, we need to do more than vote in anonymous polls. We need to challenge discrimination, hate speech and bigotry whenever we see it.

It may make us uncomfortable; may mean putting ourselves on the line. So be it. If we are to take human rights seriously in this country, the majority who feel that discrimination is immoral must make ourselves visible in some real way.

The tide will not change with the click of a mouse.

I close with the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, circa 1945: ‘First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.’

Charles D. Bush