An American pastor who has drawn controversy over his stance against homosexuality said he does not believe Jamaica will ban him even though a local LGBT rights advocate has launched a petition to deny him entry.
Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church is set to be in Jamaica for a "Missions Trip" that will run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3. Although a petition to keep him from entering the country has been lodged by an LGBT rights advocate named Jay John on Change.org, the Arizona pastor told The Washington Blade that he does not expect the Jamaican government to block his entry.
Nevertheless, Anderson said he was able to travel successfully several times in the past to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
"I don't anticipate being banned from Jamaica because Jamaicans are in general anti-homosexual, but if I am banned, then so be it," Anderson told the Blade in an email sent on Jan. 4. "There are lots of fish in the sea."
In 2016, Anderson was deported from Botswana after he told a radio program that the government ought to kill gays and lesbians. He also talked about the death of the victims who died in the Pulse gay nightclub massacre.
Meanwhile, Human Rights First expressed concern over Anderson's impending mission to Jamaica. The organization urged U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to denounce the Arizona pastor's anti-gay rhetoric and issue a statement saying the latter's stance does not reflect American values.
According to Jamaican priest Sean Major-Campbell, the rector of Christ Church in Vineyard Town, they do not want Anderson to bring his "brand of hate" to their country. He admitted that the incidence of violence in Jamaica is no longer the same as it was in the past, but said being part of the LGBT community still carries a significant level of stigma.
As of this writing, John's petition on Change.org has garnered almost 7,000 signatures.