Gay cruise group not put off by preacher’s words
A gay travel company due to arrive here today with a cruise ship full of visitors has pledged not to be put off Bermuda by the homophobic comments of preacher Scott Smith.
The Celebrity vessel Summit is expected at Dockyard first thing this morning with 50 passengers on a vacation organised by New-York based Pied Piper Travel.
The visit comes just days after Mr Smith delivered an anti-gay rant at a weekend event to promote peace and unite people against violence.
The community activist later apologised for going too far but said he remained steadfast in his belief that “homosexuality is an abomination”.
Pied Piper Travel told The Royal Gazette in a statement yesterday: “Pied Piper has been coming to Bermuda for many years and has always felt welcome on the Island.
“We have worked closely with the Bermuda Tourism Office in New York and they have been very supportive of our visit. As always, we are looking forward to touring Bermuda.
“Unfortunately, ignorance and prejudice still exists all over the world.”
Meanwhile, local restaurateur Philip Barnett denounced Mr Smith’s “hate-filled” comments and said his company would welcome the Summit’s passengers with a party at Latin tomorrow night featuring drag queen Sybil Barrington (aka Mark Anderson).
“Bermuda can ill afford to discriminate against anybody,” said Mr Barnett, president of Island Restaurant Group.
“The last thing that we need to be doing is discouraging visitors to the Island.
“The gay travel demographic: these are people who generally do have a good amount of money to spend. Bermuda is just a lovely place for them to come.
“We have pink beaches, gorgeous scenery, lovely romantic spots to visit. It’s an opportunity for us to roll out the welcome mat.”
Mr Barnett said Mr Smith’s remarks came from a position of hatred.
“It’s hatred with absolutely no understanding,” he said. “To take such an uneducated and, quite frankly, hate-filled position; in my view, I don’t know how anybody could call themselves a man of the cloth. This is my personal opinion and he obviously has his.”
Mr Barnett said the Queen of Bermuda party, at 8pm tomorrow at Latin on Victoria Street, would celebrate diversity and all were welcome.
Tourism Minister Patrice Minors yesterday declined to comment on Mr Smith’s remarks or the Pied Piper visit.
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