Today’s Opinion: “Gay marketing”

St. Maarten hangs on to the idea that its economy will grow by 1.3 percent this year, while a solid projection by the respected Central Bank does not get past 0.3 percent. That explains the hole in the budget.

Yesterday the parliamentary committee for tourism gave an audience to the United Ministerial Foundation. The church leaders have an eternal problem with the arrival of gay cruises. We don’t get a lot of them in 2007 the fuss was about the Aquafest gay Halloween cruise. Now it is about Royal Caribbean’s gay cruise that will bring 2,500 vacationers to our island.

The members of the committee made at least clear that St. Maarten’s State Regulation, or the Kingdom Constitution for that matter, does not leave any maneuvering space to keep the ship at bay, so to speak. The legislation that regulates basic citizens’ rights simply prohibits discrimination – a detail that does not seem to bother the churches.

So now the foundation will take the next step and turn to the cruise industry with a request to tone down the marketing for gay cruises.

OMG! We wonder how the gay marketing executive of Royal Caribbean will react to such a request. (Actually we do not know that this man is gay – for all we know the executive in question could be a woman, and a lesbian – but the possibility that he is gay exists).

And what will our minister of tourism have to say about this. Tone down the marketing so that less cruise passengers come to St. Maarten?

It all seems to be very much ado about nothing. The churches ought to take some time off for a healthy dose of introspection about their role and their position in our community. If church leaders want to call homosexuality a sin, fine. That’s why we have freedom of expression.

But why make all the fuss about the occasional gay cruise? Why not welcome these people? Who are the church leaders to decide what kind of life others have to live?

Come on, everybody knows the religious position on homosexuality, and on other moral issues like abortion, sex before marriage, same sex marriage, marriage, gambling, drinking, prostitution, and so on.

All these issues have one thing in common. They occur, whether the church approves or not. Human nature will always prevail over moral crusaders. That has been the case for thousands of years.

Curacao is now advertised on the internet as gay-friendly. St. Maarten wants to tone down the marketing as a destination that embraces gay and lesbian vacationers.

Why? To play the game of keeping up appearances? To pretend – like Iran’s president Ahmadinejad who said to hilarious laughter in the United Nations that there are no homosexuals in his country – that all people in St. Maarten are straight?
Researchers have found that between2 and 13 percent of a population is gay. Projected on, say, 50,000 citizens in St. Maarten, we’re talking about a happy community of between 1,000 and 6,500 gay citizens. Of the fifteen members of parliament, between 0.3 and 1.95 politicians are gay. So why fuss about the arrival of a cruise liner that carries just 2,500 of them?

Five years ago, the global purchasing power of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people was estimated at a conservative $641 million. Next year that number will hit an astonishing $2 trillion.

Money does not have right of way in the discussion about moral issues. But since the gay community is, well protected against discrimination by the constitution, and rightly so, does it not make more sense to increase gay marketing rather than to tone it down?

Source – Today