Jamaica has banned a Holocaust-denying pastor from Arizona who has called for gay people to be stoned death, after outcry from activists on the island.
Steven Anderson, from the Faithful World Baptist Church in Tempe, said he was about to board a flight to Kingston when he was informed he would not be allowed into Jamaica.
Anderson, who once prayed for the death of Barack Obama, has previously been denied entry to South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom and Botswana.
“The decision was made by the chief immigration officer because the pastor’s statements are not conducive to the current climate,” said spokesperson for the Ministry of National Security on Monday.
The University of the West Indies, where Anderson was slated to speak, also rescinded its invitation.
Discrimination and the threat of violence against gay people in Jamaica remains pervasive, but activists hoped that the ban could represent a shift in attitudes in a country well-known for its homophobic attitudes.
“This is a positive outcome in which I am very pleased,” said Jay John, an activist who launched an online petition calling on the Jamaican government to bar Anderson. More than 39,000 people have signed the petition.
“I am glad that leadership was shown in protecting LGBTQ Jamaicans, women and other minority groups which Steven Anderson has attacked over the past,” said John.
Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican lawyer and gay rights activist who migrated to Canada after he received death threats, said that he was proud of Jamaica for banning Anderson. “This is a huge win for our Jamaican sovereignty, our constitutional protections and the safety and security of all Jamaicans.”
Anderson suggested that the ban was the result of pressure from other countries.
“I think the US or UK must have a lot of influence over Jamaica and that’s probably where this is coming from,” he said.
After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016, Anderson prompted revulsion with his comment that there were “50 less paedophiles in the world”.
He has also said that a women’s place is at home, raising children, not at work, .