Anglican leaders meeting on the Caribbean island of Barbados have warned against efforts to bring equal marriage to the region.

In a statement released yesterday, the House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church in the Province of the West Indies urged the region’s political leaders to resist calls for marriage equality by foreign governments.

“Frequently they are pressured to conform to the changes being undertaken in their redefinition of human sexuality and same-sex unions, under threat of economic sanctions and the loss of humanitarian aid,” the bishops said in their statement.

“We urge our leaders of government and of civil society, as well as the people of our nations, to resist any attempt to compromise our cultural and religious principles regarding these matters.

“The dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike,” the bishops added. “More specifically, there is a redefinition of gender to accommodate gay, lesbian and transgendered [sic] people, and the creation of a plurality of definitions which leaves the issue of gender to self-definition, thereby dismissing traditional definition of male and female.”

The bishops also rejected the concept of same-sex marriage being seen as a human right.

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Barbados, with a life sentence available to those convicted, although the law is rarely enforced.

Last October, three people launched legal action against Jamaica due to the country’s continued enforcement of homophobic laws.