Premier and Minister of Finance and Seventh District Representative Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley has said while the Virgin Islands (VI) welcomes persons of different cultures and beliefs in its society without discrimination, it is not in favour of anyone trying to force a different culture and beliefs on the VI people.
‘I’m against cultural imperialism’- Premier
“One thing that I’m certainly against in our community is what we call cultural imperialism. This is where one culture wants to force their culture on somebody else’s culture. And we in the Virgin Islands
, we have a strong culture, we have a strong belief in God, we assert that we’re a Christian community,” Premier Wheatley said when asked to give his reason for recommending a referendum on the matter of same sex marriage and to state his position on abortion.
Dr Wheatley was at the time on the forum “A Response” hosted by the Community Worship Centre Church of God of Prophecy in Long Look on March 12, 2023.
“And while we accept others, and while we certainly don’t advocate for violence or discrimination against others, we are certainly firm in what we believe and what we want our culture to be,” Dr Wheatley added.
Minister for Health and Social
Development Honourable Marlon A. Penn (R8) was asked his stance on the
world embracing the LGBTQ+ community given that the VI is termed a ‘God
fearing country’. Right is Independent D7 candidate Perline R.
Scatliffe-Leonard and left is the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) candidate
in the Eighth District, L. Allen Wheatley.
Defending marriage between man & woman
The Government is currently the respondent in a case currently before the High Court, where a same sex couple, both Virgin Islanders, were married abroad, and have mounted a legal challenge to have their union legally recognised in the [British] Virgin Islands.
Dr Wheatley, in a statement on December 19, 2022, had said if the couple is successful, section 13(1)(c) of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act, which provides that marriage is void unless the parties are respectively male and female, would be declared unconstitutional and, therefore, be null and void. As a result, same-sex marriage would become legal in the Virgin Islands
“Of course, we know that we have a legal case, and part of the purpose of this case which has been brought against the Government, which we are defending vigorously, we’re defending marriage between a man and a woman”, the Premier continued during Sunday’s forum.
Referendum is to ‘send a message’
In a special meeting of the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands
held on Friday, December 16, 2022, Cabinet decided to refer the matter of same-sex marriage to a referendum, so that the electorate can consider and decide on the question of whether same-sex marriage should be legal. The referendum is expected to be held after the 2023 General Elections.
“What has been recommended to me, as a means of strengthening our case is to be able to allow the people of the Virgin Islands
to make their views known and clear as it pertains to their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And the referendum allows you the opportunity to…send that message to the court system, to the United Kingdom and to whoever else, in terms of what we want to see our community to be”, Dr Wheatley said.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Christian Concern and UK lawyer Mrs Andrea M. Williams has said the VI, being a nation based on a belief in God as stated in its constitution, should not even consider a referendum on same-sex marriage.
Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley
(R7) speaking on the forum ‘A Response’ hosted by the Community Worship
Centre Church of God of Prophecy in Long Look on March 12, 2023.
‘I am not one to be judgmental’- Hon Marlon A. Penn
Meanwhile, Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Marlon A. Penn (R8) was asked his stance on the world embracing the LGBTQ+ community given that the VI is termed a “God fearing country”.
Hon appeared to choose the path of being politically correct.
“I think that has to be consistent with the way that we govern, the way that we legislate. And I think it is not our responsibility to put our personal preference on the people of BVI.
“My opinion should not govern, should not dictate the way how I legislate and I believe that just how we’re doing the referendums on these issues, the people have spoken very loudly…I am not one to be judgmental but I believe that the principles of the law of the land and society should obtain”, Honourable Penn said.