Saint Lucia’s anti-gay laws having “negative effect” on tourism — U&S responds to article

By MERRICK ANDREWS

Castries, St. Lucia, May 6 2019 (St. Lucia News Online): Saint Lucia’s main LGBTI rights organisation, United and Strong (U&S), has responded to media reports that two bisexual contestants of popular UK show ‘Blind Date’ were warned during their prize-winning trip to Saint Lucia that ‘homosexuality is illegal’ on the island and gay sex can get them 10 years behind bars.

The gay tourists were tense during their entire trip and organisers of the show have apologised for sending the men to the ‘wrong island,’ according to numerous reports coming out of the UK.

Responding to a request from St. Lucia News Online for a comment on the situation, United and Strong said in a written statement: “From the organization’s perspective we believe that the article brings to light the plight of the LGBTI community locally, but also highlights the negative effect our laws and legislation have on the tourism product.”

The organisation went on to say that as a country which is heavily dependent on tourism “the existing laws creates an atmosphere of fear, shame and to some extent disgust for potential visitors”.

“Unfortunately it is also the everyday struggle for local LGBTI community members who are citizens and nationals of St. Lucia,” United and Strong also stated.

According to media reports in the UK, ‘Blind Date’ fans are furious that the bisexual men — Jordan Shannon and Jesse Drew — were sent to Saint Lucia where gay sex is illegal.

“I didn’t know this until I was told on the way to the hotel. I thought: ‘What the f**k?’,” Jordan reportedly told The Daily Star.

Jesse reportedly “couldn’t relax” after the hotel security guard advised him of “island rules,” the newspaper further reported.

“The hotel security woman told me how most gay men were in the closet there as homosexuality is illegal. It’s 10 years in prison if caught,” he added.

“Jordan and Jesse returned safely to the UK following the tense trip,” the newspaper stated.

A Channel 5 official has reportedly admitted to the mistake of sending the men to Saint Lucia.

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