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The Jamaican government on Monday prevented an anti-LGBT American pastor from entering the country.
Steven Anderson, who is a pastor at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., told the Jamaica Gleaner, a Jamaican newspaper, that he and his 14-year-old son flew from Arizona to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Anderson and his son were then scheduled to fly to Norman Manley International Airport in the Jamaican capital of Kingston.
Anderson told the newspaper a representative of Delta Air Lines told him the airline “received a notification from Jamaica that I was not going to be allowed to enter” the country.
The Jamaican government confirmed it had refused to allow Anderson to enter the country.
“The decision was made to deny him entry by the chief immigration officer because the pastor’s statements are not conductive to the current climate,” said the Jamaican National Security Ministry in a statement to the Jamaica Gleaner.
Jay John, a Jamaican activist, in a Change.org petition that urged the Jamaican government to ban Anderson from entering the country notes he has said gay men should be stoned to death. The petition — which had more than 38,000 signatures — also points out Anderson has previously celebrated the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Anderson’s church as one of “the most hardcore anti-LGBT hate groups” in the U.S.
Anderson told the Washington Blade earlier this month he did not expect the Jamaican government to ban him from the country. He told the Jamaica Gleaner on Monday he “was kind of surprised” he was not allowed to travel to Jamaica.
The Canadian, British and South African governments have banned Anderson from entering their countries. Botswana in 2016 deported Anderson after he said during a radio interview the government should kill gays and lesbians and described the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre as “disgusting homosexuals who the Bible says were worthy of death.”
Jamaica is among the more than 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.
Anderson told the Jamaica Gleaner he is “planning on just redirecting to a different Caribbean country and I am still going to go forward with my mission efforts this week, but I am just going to go to a different country.” He pointed out to the Blade earlier this month that his church has had “multiple successful missions trips” to Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
“There are lots of fish in the sea,” Anderson told the Blade.