CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) -- Lawmakers in the
British Virgin Islands have repealed a longstanding immigration order that
bans "hippies" and Rastafarians from entering the islands, an official said
Orlando Smith said the bill he introduced Friday passed by a 7-4 vote,
two legislators absent.
"It's an embarrassment to this country," Smith said of the 1980 order.
Legislators still have to fine tune some minor details in repealing the order,
and it is not clear when it will expire, he said.
The law was introduced by Chief Minister Ralph O'Neal, who oversees the
Immigration Department, The Virgin Islands Daily News reported Friday.
O'Neal was quoted as saying in the newspaper he believed the law was
needed because visiting "hippies" and Rastafarians would steal fruit and
engage in sexual acts in public.
Smith, elected to the Legislative Council in May, said he thought that
order was introduced after there was an increased incidence of anti-social
behavior "created by persons in this category."
The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, a British territory, ruled Friday
an 8-year-old Rastafarian boy would have to cut off his dreadlocks to return
to school in the autumn.
Many followers of Rastafarianism do not cut their hair, letting it form
"dreadlocks" that have become a symbol of the movement.
The Caymanian court did, however, recognize Rastafarianism as a legitimate
religion, noting it offers a "redemptive ethic" of good deeds and a savior.
Followers of Rastafarianism, which has its roots in nearby Jamaica, worship
former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who died in 1975.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press