Jamaican Objects to the World’s Impression
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin
August 12th, 2008
Occasionally I’ll remind you why gay people, their friend, neighbors, family, and folks in general that are not fond of an atmosphere of homophobic violence and hatred may wish to avoid the island of Jamaica. It’s time for another reminder.
In an editorial in the Jamaica Observer, Lloyd B. Smith is indignant that the courts in the States and in Europe are providing asylum to gay and lesbian Jamaicans that fear returning back and facing barbarism from their neighbors. He thinks it is the result of “the picture being painted of Jamaica by the international gay lobby”.
However, no one can challenge the fact that many gay men and women in Jamaica are generally ignored by the populace. In fact, the cases of violence directed at homosexuals are far fewer than the gay lobby would have the world believe.
And in many of those cases we have found that it was the public display of homosexual men and their physical response to public criticism that led to them being attacked.
Then Mr. Smith goes on to justify specific incidences of violence.
Mr Carr, the executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, in relating an incident in Half-Way-Tree when gay men were mobbed, chose to ignore the reported fact that the mobbing took place after one of the men splashed liquid on a woman who found their behaviour distasteful and said so.
Perhaps Mr. Smith thinks that in civilized nations a splash of liquid justifies a mob beating and police participation. Perhaps he is unaware that most Americans and Europeans find his attitude nearly as offensive as the violence itself.
And then he offers what he thinks is an acceptable solution.
We’ll repeat a suggestion we offered to the gay lobby three months ago. Instead of trying to sully Jamaica’s name, allow Jamaicans to adapt to changing perceptions of people’s lifestyles and the fact that individuals of all kinds can coexist.
Mr. Smith, let me respond on behalf of “the gay lobby”: If by “coexist” you mean beatings and murder, we reject your offer. If you believe that “public display of homosexual men” justifies a mob attack, we reject your offer. If you think that “people who regard homosexuality as sinful and repulsive” are of more value than peace-loving gay and lesbian men and women, we reject your offer.
We will continue to seek to remove Jamaican Murder Music from our communities. We will continue to protect those gay men and women who have escaped in fear and who seek asylum among modern nations. We will continue to warn our fellow citizens who may be lured by your country’s advertising that you are a nation that celebrates violence and that tourism is unsafe among people who are so eager to coddle their own bigotries.
We will refuse to reward you for your self-justified hatred and incivility and reject your arrogant suggestion.
Rather, let me offer a suggestion to the people of the island of Jamaica. Instead of trying to justify your mob behaviors that civilized people find abhorent, repent of your murderous ways. Rather than congratulate yourselves on your recent “higher level of tolerance for homosexuality among women”, recognize that you have far to go.
Decriminalize homosexuality. Provide civil equality. Commit to protecting all citizens regardless of orientation. Cease finding homosexuality as repulsive and instead place that revulsion on the small minded attitudes that plague your people. And then perhaps the world will cease viewing you as a ignorant, violent, and hateful people.