Preacher apologises for anti-gay rant
A preacher who launched into a tirade against homosexuality at a candlelit vigil for victims of violence admitted last night he went too far.
Scott Smith told The Royal Gazette he wanted to publicly apologise to 22-year-old student Krystl Assan, who organised a human rights rally at City Hall last week, for ridiculing her on Saturday. But he said he stood firmly behind his belief that “homosexuality is an abomination” and gay people are “going to bring damnation to Bermuda’s shores”.
He claimed everyone at the Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) event at Devil’s Hole clapped and agreed with his remarks. “The people that were there, I know none of them were gay,” he said.
Dee-Ann Iris, one of the organisers, said yesterday the aim of the get-together was to unite people against gun crime and no one involved was asked to speak on homosexuality.
“We just want to get the community to come together,” she said. “We just want to stop what’s going on.”
About 100 people attended Ms Assan’s ‘Home Is Where the Hatred Is’ protest outside City Hall on Wednesday, when she called for the Human Rights Act to be swiftly amended to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Ms Assan told the crowd she organised the rally in “a flash of emotion” after allegedly being discriminated against at a guest house for “sleeping in a bed with another woman”.
At the MASK event, Mr Smith referred to her last name and said: “Assan, Ass-an, Ass-an, Ass, what does that tell you?”
He told this newspaper: “I owe her a big apology for saying that. That just came out of the blue. I need to apologise and I wish I could retract that.
“I didn’t want to attack her. I was emotionally upset. I was upset the gays had more support in their rally than people supporting the rally against violence and murder.”
The community activist admitted: “A candlelit vigil probably wasn’t the best place to speak out about that.”
Ms Iris, who works for The Royal Gazette, said: “He shouldn’t have done that.”
Mr Smith went on to say he believed gay people were not born “with that problem” but made a choice about their sexuality. “It’s like saying ‘I was born to be a crack head or a drug addict’,” he claimed.
He added: “I’m not trying to beat up on people. I love gay people but I just don’t like the gay act. I’m not coming with hatred.”
Asked what homosexuality had to do with gun crime, Mr Smith said: “If somebody killed my brother I would be very upset. If someone raped my brother, if a homosexual raped my brother and had sex with my brother against their will, it’s a homosexual act and it’s also a rape.”
He said men who had sex with other men could contract Aids and “paedophiles have a homosexual tendency”.
He agreed people other than gay men contract Aids and paedophiles who sexually assault female children are unlikely to be gay. The MASK event, organised in conjunction with St Philip AME Church, also heard from members of US-based group Christ for the Nations.
Chad Owens told those gathered he fell into a homosexual lifestyle as a teenager but God “really set me free”.
“I’m married now, I have a beautiful wife,” he said, to cheers from the audience. Ms Assan could not be reached last night. Selina Bean, from campaign group Two Words and a Comma, which is pushing for the change to the Human Rights Act, said she did not want to comment.
Ms Bean spoke on the sexual orientation amendment at Amnesty’s 50th anniversary celebration, also on Saturday evening. She told the audience: “As a voting Bermudian and happy, comfortable and secure lesbian, I am unsettled and upset that in my own country I have no human rights on the basis of my sexuality.”
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