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Jamaican Tourism Minister Shrugs off Violence Against Gays

Timothy Kincaid

April 7th, 2008

bartlett.jpgTourism is vital to Jamaica’s economy, with about one third of every employed Jamaican working in a tourism related industry. With their “Come to Jamaica and feel alright” campaign, the island nation seeks to present itself as a paradise for vacationing Americans.

But sadly, the Jamaican society does not seem to believe that reality need live up to their media image.

Recent attention has been given to the violence against gay persons in the country. And resulting from the attacks on gay men, MCC has called on the country to repudiate such violence and to take steps to ensure the safety of the gay men and women who live there.

Now Jamaicans in position of influence have given their response.

Today Radio Jamaica reports that the Tourism Minister is not concerned about the efforts of MCC or other “homosexual groups”:

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett [pictured, top] has brushed off calls by homosexual groups for a tourism boycott of Jamaica and Jamaican products.

But at least one Jamaican business recognizes that anti-gay violence does not sell well outside of a homophobic culture.

Brewing company Red Stripe says it will not sponsor several upcoming concerts in Jamaica because of increasingly violent lyrics.

The company has withdrawn thousands of dollars (euros) in sponsorship from the popular “Reggae Sumfest” and “Sting” reggae show. Musicians are glorifying violence in what has become a worrisome trend, the company said in a statement Friday.

But the actions of Red Stripe did not sit well with Jamaican media. In an article entitled Long live reggae/dancehall, the newspaper contrasted the views of gay activists and the “Jamaican position”. The article quoted the Box Turtle Bulletin as it’s source for the attitudes of such activists and Jamaican religious leaders.

miller.jpgSaw an interesting article on the Internet recently dated February 18, written by a Timothy Kinkaid stating that the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a gay-welcoming denomination, has started a protest against the Jamaican government’s inability – or unwillingness – to crack down on anti-gay violence. …

The article continued, “One might suppose that a call for the cessation of violence was a campaign which all Christians could support. One would be wrong. Not only were MCC’s requests reviled in the Jamaican media, but Jamaica’s Christian community did not take well to being told that they ought not murder gays.

The Rev Dr Merrick ‘Al’ Miller [pictured], pastor of the Fellowship Tabernacle in St Andrew, said that Jamaicans generally deem homosexuality wrong. He said the demands of gay activists who are attempting to force their beliefs on society will in no way influence Jamaicans to change their views.”

Need we say more?

And the Caribbean net news ran a letter to the editor last Saturday expressing indignation that outsiders would consider making purchasing decisions based on Jamaica’s abuse of their gay citizens.

It fully angers me to hear that this group of foreigners think they can dictate the policy and laws of another sovereign nation because they trade products and services with them. It was selfish, shortsighted thinking like this that led to Haiti being in the state it currently is.

I always thought that the laws of a nation were dictated by what that society decided was right and wrong and that we were in a world where, if my countries laws and polices were not the same as yours, we could agree to disagree.

What is missing from the conversation in Jamaica is the voice of reason, the voice of non-violence, the voice of decency. When confronted with murder, the response is, “How dare you criticize me?” and no one seems to find this concerning.

There are many factors that go into the decision of whether to engage in a boycott. One has to consider whether your efforts will be effective and whether the end result will be better or worse conditions for gay Jamaicans. And I’m certain that MCC is more responsible and forward thinking than, say, the AFA.

But whether or not there is a boycott on Jamaican goods, I am certain that I would be afraid to visit there. The physical danger is not minor and I fear that should there be a threat to me, neither the government, the church, or the society would come to my rescue. Further, I would discourage anyone whom I love from vacationing on the island. Those who champion violence against some can champion violence against many.

Perhaps Minister Bartlett shares the homophobia that is rampant in Jamaican society. Or perhaps he fears the condemnation he would receive as a result of being perceived as inadequately hostile to homosexual activists such as me. But if he cares about the future of his nation’s economy and stability, he might be better concerned that his nation not come to be seen by the American public as a hostile and violent place and he might wish to consider that the tourists he seeks to draw do not often share his culture’s fear and revulsion of gay men and women.



Jim Burroway
April 7th, 2008 | LINK

As the Red Stripe commercial goes, “Hooray, beer!”

Ben in oakland
April 7th, 2008 | LINK

I’ve been to jamaica and several other places in the carribean. The beaches are very nice, the food only OK, and the attitude quite possibly frightening. I don’t have any burning desire to return. but If they don’t care enoguh about violence and bigotry to at least make a show of it, they certainly don’t need my dollars.

dominica had exactly the same kind of beaches, and very friendly people. when the hubby and i went there two years ago to an all includive, we were about the only way-out fags visible in our all inclusive. nevertheless, we were trreated very well.

So go to dominica instead.

Mike Airhart
April 7th, 2008 | LINK

Let’s not forget that Exodus Global Alliance supports criminalization of homosexuality and has declined to comment on the violence.

What I said at Truth Wins Out.

April 7th, 2008 | LINK

You couldn’t pay me to visit Jamaica.

It seems to me that to not boycott Jamaica is to support their unrepentent and violent hatred of homosexuals.

During Apartheid buying South African goods and vacationing in South Africa certainly wasn’t the thing to do. Is Jamaican society’s attitude towards gays any better? I think not.

(Of course no boycott should include businesses like Red Stripe that try to do the right thing.)

April 8th, 2008 | LINK

Such a pity. Its a beautiful island and I loved the people when I was there.

I believe (could be wrong of course) that we’re seeing the same scapegoating in Jamaica that we see in the States stated more violently. Things aren’t going so well? Stone the fags. It’s easier than dealing with the terrible state of the Jamaican economy, largely due to the actions of the World Bank, and the poverty and crime that is engulfing the island.

April 8th, 2008 | LINK

Curacao has publicly welcomed gay and lesbian cruisies and visitors. Mexico has civil unions in some states and has a variety of warm, sunny climates to choose from (tropical, mountain, pacific, etc.). Unless you have a burning desire to vacation in a semi-permanent haze of marijuana smoke and superstition, where daily aerobics involves running for your life, why choose Jamaica?

Jason D
April 8th, 2008 | LINK

“I always thought that the laws of a nation were dictated by what that society decided was right and wrong and that we were in a world where, if my countries laws and polices were not the same as yours, we could agree to disagree.”

Absolutely, just part of my disagreement means I choose to spend my money elsewhere.

Colin in Trinidad
April 8th, 2008 | LINK

Actually, Tim, you’d be safer in Jamaica than most Jamaicans, gay or straight. I wish people who would have never gone in the first place instead of saying they are joining a boycott would actually visit, build alliances of support and respect with gay people there, and send money to groups like JFLAG who are struggling. It’s sad that we think about a boycott in terms of our own safety. It’s supposed to be a political sacrifice: to give up some convenience for a greater good. Remember: riding the bus to work as a Black person in AL….

Timothy Kincaid
April 8th, 2008 | LINK


I am hoping that MCC considers all those options before declaring a boycott – and I believe that they are doing so. MCC has been making an effort to bring an inclusive gospel to the island and has been working with JFLAG (who I know does not support a boycott).

Personally, my experience with Jamaica is limited to a day stop on a cruise trip. But I don’t intend to return until the civil authorities can ensure my safety.

How are things in Trinidad?

Neville A. Ross
May 8th, 2009 | LINK


It’s easier than dealing with the terrible state of the Jamaican economy, largely due to the actions of the World Bank, and the poverty and crime that is engulfing the island.

Maybe if your government and that Boston Brahman (and his predecessors) that you elected as POTUS weren’t so much in the pay of Wall Street and actually cared about people instead of profits as well as letting corporations fuck the Third World over for resources, Jamaica might not be so fucked up. But it is, and this boycott isn’t helping things, certainly not for JFLAG. Want to help Jamaica? Tell President Obama to give AIG and the other greedy Wall Street financiers/hedge fund barons a swift kick in the nuts AND the ass, and make the stop their greedy bullshit; maybe the problems that bedevil Jamaica and that are behind all of its troubles could be resolved, with the pressure that you speak of gone. That’s a lot better way of helping Jamaica that what’s being done here.

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