A qualified apology by Minister of State in the Ministry of the People, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, over comments she made about People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley has failed to q
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Threat for Leroy Clarke
Artist Leroy Clarke has received a threatening phone call, warning him his public denunciation of homosexuality could damage his career. “It was a semi-threat. It was not a threat against my life but my livelihood,” Clarke told the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday. “Somebody called me on my telephone. I did not recognise the voice. He said I have a career and to watch it. I could damage it,” he said. Clarke said the indirect message was that the gay community would no longer be patronising him.
“I am not taking on those things. I believe in what I said,” he added. Clarke ignited the anger of the gay community when he said homosexuality was threatening the arts. In a subsequent T&T Guardian article, he elaborated on the statement, saying it came from his belief in a God he did not know, the Scriptures which condemned homosexuality and his upbringing. “I grew up understanding it was so and I am convinced it is so. I grew up with the Bible, God’s Word, but it looks like God’s Word is not important anymore.”
He added: “My view is not popular with a certain sector. It is unfortunate that sector moves mountains in certain areas of business. “There is a community and it’s strong enough, big enough and influential enough. Certain power bases are lobbying for constitutional recognition and it’s very possible such a move will become inevitable. “Now people want to harm you. They told me to watch my career but I don’t have a career. I have a life. They can’t stop me from painting.”
Clarke said he was totally against violence against anyone because of his persuasion. “I don’t hate anybody, period. But one needs to be assertive about his beliefs,” he said. His main concern was that homosexuality was interfering with African identity, he added. He said his telephone had been ringing almost non-stop since his declarations and there was a good balance in the calls. About half of the callers did not like his statements on homosexuality and half was very supportive, he said.
A lot of support came from happy Christian pastors who thanked him for speaking out like that, he said. Concerning his comments about homosexuality and gangs, Clarke said: “People actually said those things to me.” He said despite what people feel inclined to do, there was an in-built sense of right and wrong inside them. He said humanity was going through a terrible time when distinctions were no longer made, including in the area of gender.
Clarke said there was a need for T&T to review its stand on a number of positions, including that which he abhored. “We have to define our approach to settling the question. We should not pretend it does not exist,” he said.