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Antigua and Barbuda is among CARICOM countries that delayed signing a new EU agreement for fear of links to same-sex issues.
Last week, over 40 of nearly 80 third-world or developing nations signed on to the new economic partnership agreement between the European Union and its former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).
A few Caribbean and African countries have decided not to sign the new Samoa Agreement due to concerns about the EU’s imposition of western values on these nations.
The agreement replaces the Cotonou Agreement signed by the two groups in 2000 and is responsible for governing the trade and aid arrangements between Europe and the countries that it had previously colonized.
There has been opposition from social and academic activists, particularly in the Caribbean, against the new deal, urging governments not to sign it.
They are worried that the mention of human and other rights in the agreement would eventually lead to domestic legislation changes allowing for same-sex marriages, introduction of sex education in state schools, and similar issues.
However, EU and ACP officials who have been working on the documents during the months leading up to the Samoa signing have stated that there are no such references in the agreement, and activists are reading too much into the various clauses without any justification.
Despite this, Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, The Bahamas, Grenada, and Dominica have decided to delay signing the deal.
Civil society groups in Jamaica and Trinidad are urging the authorities not to sign the agreement as they fear it will allow Europeans to impose LGBTQ+ demands such as same-sex marriages on local societies.
Guyana has also not signed because authorities have made a rather strange request for a reservation relating to economic migrants and refugees.
Flabbergasted EU and ACP officials say they have nothing to work with from the Caricom head office nation and it is up to Guyana to come on board when ready as they are not even sure what the reservation means and intends.
Cuba has also delayed signing but the reason is unknown. Those who have not signed have until mid-next year to do so.
Jamaica is one of the Caribbean countries that has not signed the Samoa agreement, which establishes standards for the protection of human rights and the environment.
The country has faced pressure from at least 15 civil society groups to refuse to sign the agreement due to concerns about the impact on local laws.
The Jamaican government has stated that it will delay signing the agreement to allow for further consultations with domestic groups to ensure that no local laws are breached.
Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith assured that the government had taken on board the views of various stakeholders, including civil society members, and that the government was satisfied that the language of the text in the final agreement would not supersede Jamaica’s domestic legislation.
Trinidadian Catholic Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon has also criticized the agreement, arguing that its human rights clauses will cause social trouble in the region, including the imposition of abortion legislation, transgender, LBGTQ, comprehensive sex education, and other values that are not consistent with Caribbean culture.