The situation in Jamaica concerning the status and well-being of its homosexual citizens continues to evolve in a one step forward-two steps backward manner. The video above, featuring former Miss Jamaica World (1998) and Miss Jamaica Universe (2004) Christine Straw with her gay brother, Matthew, was launched by the advocacy group Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) at the beginning of this month.
The video was designed as a PSA (Public Service Announcement) and was intended for airplay on Jamaica’s main TV stations, CVM and TVJ. Apparently in yet another display of media gutlessness both stations have declined to air the PSA in fear of public reaction.
Prominent Gleaner columnist and TV show host Ian Boyne devoted his entire Sunday column to the subject:
It is to our shame that Jamaican gay people cannot come on television, show their faces, debate their homosexuality with heterosexuals, go back home in peace and to their jobs and live normal lives the next day. If we lay claim to being a pluralistic, democratic society and not an autocracy like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Burma, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, gay people should be free to express their views without fear of violence, harassment or victimisation.
But what about the view that homosexuality is against Jamaican law and, therefore, it would be improper to show such blatant disrespect for Jamaican law by parading gay people on air, or showing an ad effectively calling for a softening of attitudes to these persons engaging in lawbreaking?
Of course Jamaica being the morally upright, unswervingly ethical society it is could never contemplate showing homosexuals who may have breached the country’s antiquated buggery laws on air. No it takes a zero tolerance approach to homosexuals. In a disturbing inversion of logic serious and serial criminals like David Smith and Christopher Coke have yet to be brought to book in Jamaica for crimes far more damaging than buggery while the US subjects them to the full brunt of its justice system. Smith, who has just been sentenced to 30 years in the US was a regular on air in Jamaica, in print and on radio and both political parties willingly accepted donations from him. But can a homosexual openly occupy public office or appear on TV? No way!
To their credit the People’s National Party seems to have started some kind of soul-searching on the matter although the motive in doing this might be a purely opportunistic one. Anthony Hylton, chair of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Policy Commission, was quoted in an Observer article observing that it was time for the country to initiate a dialogue on such matters as the death penalty and homosexuality.
The people in Europe are saying what kind of people are we, why are we so hostile to homosexuals, for example, and yet we know why, because we have a different cultural perspective, but we have to manage that dialogue with them, otherwise they’re going to say why are our taxpayers’ money going to these brutish people?”
According to Hylton, if we don’t deal with the issues, “we are going to be marginalised economically”.
As I said the unprecedented soul-searching seems to be prompted more by fears of not being able to access funding from the ‘developed’ world rather than a genuine desire towards greater tolerance of difference and ‘diversity’.
Meanwhile in the absence of a shelter or any facilities they can access homeless homosexual males are driven into the streets of Kingston where they resort to prostitution to make a living. According to Chairman of JAMAICA Aids Support for Life (JASL), Ian McKnight, “…while the issue might not sit well with a number of taxpayers, the situation transcends personal or religious beliefs and, instead, is a matter that should be tackled by the administration.”
McKnight was quoted in the Observer saying that though “it would be very costly to house all the homeless living in abandoned buildings and gullies in the New Kingston area…shelter should be provided for those forced out of their homes and communities and onto the streets as a result of their sexual preference.
“Many of them, he said, are vulnerable to being beaten by the police, attacked by men riding motorbikes and stoned by those bent on ridding them from society.”
So despite Jah Cure’s hauntingly beautful song–one of the most outstanding reggae songs in decades some say–there is no unconditional love for all Jamaicans. Cure, a reformed inmate who did time on a rape charge, is another lawbreaker that Jamaicans have more time for than their own children with alternate sexual orientations.
11 thoughts on “No Unconditional Love? Jamaica and its homosexuals”
sadly Annie this business of Homelessness is not new but seeing the way in which the very organizations and others affiliated have handled this grouping to go as far as closing down the one shelter opened then (albeit it wasn’t perfect in 2009/10) due to “behaviour problems” then now to come and create a spin as there is egg on the faces of the LGBT community/advocates in the middle of a public debate on rights and recognition. This could have been averted from as early as 2007 when voices like mine and others were championing the causes and all kinds of excuses were found to skirt around the grouping.
Who said that dealing with the most susceptible to homophobia in the LGBT community would have been easy?
The Observer article is nothing more than a damage control spin to save face, as dissenting voices who are not apart of the status quo are deemed as trouble makers but thanks to time persons are now beginning to see through the smoke screen, if only ever so slowly, the organizations are housed close to each other yet both put together cannot make one’ then with all the funding over these many years we are to believe that a set of interventions could not be found/implemented to deal with this group before the population and associated problems were ignored and allowed to simply grow on us?
………..that is of course following displacement by the very people who are to serve them? Inter community issues were never really of import to begin with anyway.
The chickens have come home to roast sadly and it is embarrassing but they MUST accept some responsibility they being Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and JFLAG as there are HIV+ persons in the group to pass this off as if government ought to deal with it when we know that is not going to happen any time soon.
But strangely funds can be found for trips to conferences (not that those aren’t relevant) and hefty salary packages, then it’s no wonder more and more LGBT folks are cynical about approaching the organizations with problems for assistance.
Can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all the time
The Unconditional Love needs to first come from WITHIN
Now we saw the civil disobedience as done by the homeless men over two days August 23 and 24 with the 2nd day having a strong police presence and TVJ turning up and then by Sunday an article in the Gleaner where advocates hypocritically championing guess what “homelessness” which occurred in Western Jamaica all this while a ban is in effect against the population so much so that a canine team has been hired to stop the men from visiting the office, money that could have been used to possibly restart the care package programs or the care and treatment access once or twice a week.