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Travel Warning – Stay Away From Jamaica

Timothy Kincaid

March 7th, 2009

jamaica-flag.bmpSailing in a cruise liner has always been an economical way to vacation. You are fed great food, pampered by courteous staff, entertained, and your accommodations move themselves each night to a new beach or breath-taking jungle, all for a set price lower than what you would expect to pay at a decent hotel.

With the economy tanking, cruise lines are offering huge discounts to lure those who still have a job into a fun, romantic week at sea. And those sitting today in freezing weather in Midwest states no doubt find the promise of warm Caribbean breezes to be tempting.

But if you are planning a cruise in the Caribbean, please be warned. Avoid Jamaica.

This impoverished island nation has long been known to be violently hostile to anyone perceived to be gay. BTB has reported before on mob killings and public beatings. The culture of this country prides itself on its intolerance and hostility and loudly proclaims acceptance – if not encouragement – of violence towards gays. All of the voices of authority, be they community, political, media, or religious, are virtually unanimous in defense of the abusers and in condemnation of gay victims.

This has led to strained relations with Jamaica’s protector, the United Kingdom. But the local people are resolved that they will not accommodate the attitudes of Europe or the Americas and tolerate their gay children. This week Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, reiterated their stance.

Golding told Parliament on Tuesday that gay rights advocates are ”perhaps the most organized lobby in the world” and he vowed to preserve the country’s 145-year-old anti-sodomy law that prohibits sexual acts between men.

“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery,” he said.

This language is not simply a stance taken by a politician; it represents a deep and pervasive homophobic culture. Gay men and women are in real danger in that country. A friend of mine, a Jamaican man whose orientation has been the subject of significant media discussion, told me that he fears to return to visit his family.

Nor do Jamaicans seem to feel any shame for their culture of violence and hatred.

It has been nearly a year since I last posted about Jamaica. Yet it is seldom that two weeks go by without someone of Jamaican descent commenting. And while none expressed a desire to work against homophobia in their community, many indignantly demand that I cease criticizing their culture. A typical comment might be this one which was posted today:

Jamaica is a safe place to visit just that we do not support the immoral and sadomistic behaviours of gays,and we will not let litttle tourists dollars erase our culture- wasnt slavery enough for u people.If u are STRAIGHT its safe to come on the island in the sun-jamaica.u gays need Jesus.

I do feel compassion for the people. The poor are always the hardest hurt in an economic downturn.

But these people joyously cling to traditions of violence and religions of hatred and, frankly, you just aren’t safe in their country. There is no safety for you because “u need Jesus”.

But even if you aren’t gay and think that this may not really affect you, please recall that those who can justify the murder of me can quickly find a justification for mistreatment of you. No doubt you too are a proudly wicked abomination in the eyes of those who justify their own evil.

So if you are considering a cruise that includes a stop in Jamaica, please reconsider. While the island has great physical beauty, its soul is seething with hatred and you are its target.

Comments

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John
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

Timothy,

I would agree with you. I was in Jamaica on a cruise last summer ashore for one day and glad when the ship departed for Grand Cayman. I went ashore with my kid, so I am sure that people just assumed that I was straight.

I only felt safe there when out on the water in a canoe or when surrounded by other tourists. There is a tension there and aggressiveness that isn’t limited to anti-gay issues. Jamaicans were extremely aggressive towards each other, and it just felt potentially violent.

I will never again believe this stuff about Jamaicans being laid back. They were the least laid back people I ran into during that Carribean cruise or during any other foreign trip that I have taken.

John
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

I’ll never go to Jamaica and I’ll be sure to encourage everyone I know to avoid that island nation. They will not change their bigoted attitudes within my lifetime I expect so let them stew in their hatred by themselves while we spend our time – AND dollars – elsewhere.

Dyssonance
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

What startles me i that you needed to make this commentary in the first place. Jamaica is unabashedly homophobic, and has nothing that cannot be found on other islands nearby.

That someone would consider it is rather saddening — there will be no martyrs in Jamaica.

Joe
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

My life partner of 10 years grew up in Jamaica and I have lifelong friends that also grew up there and moved to Canada & the US when they had a chance. I am boycotting Jamaica just as I am also boycotting anything from UTAH and I will not attend any weddings until freedom reigns equally for everyone. I found out my insurance company and my auto loan were based out of UTAH. No longer! Take a stand! It will make a difference!

Eddie89
March 7th, 2009 | LINK

Joe, what Utah based company provided your insurance?

Dave
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

I said a long time ago on this blog that no one should travel to Jamaica.

Lynn David
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

I’m sure I might now be breathing some air that was in Utah a couple of days to a week ago, but that’s the extent of my intercourse with that state for now.

Jamaica I have been avoiding like the plague for several years now…. but then I never have even gone near the place since I was in Key West in ’86 so I haven’t even been tempted. Maybe the Caymen Islands, anyone have some money they need to sock away? I didn’t think so….

Bene D
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

Ironic. The google ad on the right sidebar is reading my IP and giving me an ad for BelAir travel, lowest Canadian prices for Jamaica travel deals.

Truth Wins Out - TWO Purchases ‘Boycott Jamaica’ Site
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

[…] Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin wrote an excellent piece describing the abuses in […]

David
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

There is a causal relationship between this fact: “This impoverished island nation ”

and these:
“this country prides itself on its intolerance and hostility”

“men and women are in real danger in that country.”

Investors are hesitant to invest in violent, persecutorial cultures, if they have any other choice.

I deliberately left out the GLBTQ specific phrases, because, on a gut level, most people realize that violence cannot be fully contained or directed, and even hets do not want to be collateral damage in the Jamaican war on GLBTQ people.

mikeksf
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

I January I was on a Ruby Princess cruise that stopped in Jamaica. I had a lovely day aboard ship explaining why I didn’t go ashore and talking with cruise personnel about their itinerary and options. With the money saved I had an even better day in Mexico.

Alex H
March 8th, 2009 | LINK

I would NOT give my money over to ANY vacation deal that will funnel money into a place known for these types of violent actions against gays. And no other LGBT person should either!

If I’m not good enough to be treated with the decency afforded to every human being then my money isn’t either and Jamaica won’t be seeing any of it. Nor will any cruise ship going to port there.

Jim
March 9th, 2009 | LINK

It’s probably good you mentioned this. Although my partner and I visited there a few years ago and found quite the opposite treatment! We don’t hide the fact that we’re together, although we’re not really flamboyant. People were very nice to us.
But, we were probably VERY lucky!

Riccardo
March 9th, 2009 | LINK

Even though the “Jamaican Culture” argues for its own extermination, it seems that their hetero penchant for frequent fornicative activity will be their undoing, when they almost all have HIV. They is a God.

Boycott Jamaica » Blog Archive » Timothy Kincaid: Travel Warning - Stay Away From Jamaica - Promote Justice for GLBT Jamaicans
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

[…] March 7th, 2009, boxturtlebulletin.com […]

Ambrose
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

jamaica is just like these deep southern staes that still have the KKK activet in them. as a fellow jamaican,
I feel that all we have is our culture. as long as you are willing to abide by our laws, we gladly accept you here. if we come to the states, you expect for us to abide by your laws no matter how unjustified they may be

Timothy Kincaid
March 26th, 2009 | LINK

Ambrose,

as long as you are willing to abide by our laws, we gladly accept you here. if we come to the states, you expect for us to abide by your laws no matter how unjustified they may be

Which is exactly why we are warning tourists to stay away from Jamaica, its culture and its “laws”.

wake up « The Sweet Bi and Bi
March 27th, 2009 | LINK

[…] But Jamaica? International human rights organizations (and others) have described Jamaica as one of the most homophobic places in the world. Read more here. […]

tammy
March 28th, 2009 | LINK

i am a jamaican and i find that picture of our flag being disgraced VERY offensive…………

tammy
March 28th, 2009 | LINK

also if you havent been too jamaica DONT judge it.and if u have you probably only stayed a week or two so you still havent been there long enough to judge the WHOLE country

Priya Lynn
March 28th, 2009 | LINK

Tammy, that picture of your flag is immeasurably less offensive than the beatings and murders of people who are gay.

Timothy Kincaid
March 28th, 2009 | LINK

tammy,

When confronted with evidence that they live in a culture of violence, hatred and evil, people have various choices.

They could, as some have done, vow to change the culture, to fight against bigotry, to stand up for the downtrodden and to welcome all people as God’s children.

You, however, choose to defend the hatred, to ignore the violence and murder, to care not at all for the victims, and to instead become indignant that anyone criticize the culture of death that emanates from your hostile island.

In short, tammy, you have chosen to embrace evil.

Steve
April 9th, 2009 | LINK

As a much closeted homosexual that resides in Jamaica. I must express my gratitude and wholehearted support for your stance to encourage the boycotting of Jamaica. I know we may all suffer, gays and straight alike. But this is a price that I am willing to pay just like all other groups in the past that fought to have there rights respected. I hope as many persons as possible will come onboard.
I recall during the nineteen eighties the great pride many of us Jamaicans felt as we boycotted and encouraged others to boycott South Africa when that country was proud of its system of oppression and ill-treatment of blacks because of the color of their skin.
The violence reported against Gays in Jamaica is very real. Most of us gays have either been affected directly or know someone that has been. Anyone who dares to be open about their sexuality is inviting violence or possible death. The State and the Religious leaders provides no protection as they view this as a moral matter in which Gays through there immoral choice of living justly invites the wrath of the society’s righteous cultural guardians.

Timothy Kincaid
April 9th, 2009 | LINK

Steve,

I’ll pray for your continued safety and hope that some day soon things will be better.

strongjamaica
April 17th, 2009 | LINK

It was highly questionable from the beginning for Boycott Jamaica to take one statement from one Jamaican LGBTQ activist out of context to support their action, as a trump card to the nearly-unanimous opposition to their boycott coming from Jamaican LGBTQ people, but now we know that not even that person supports the boycott.
Mr. Henry raises many of the same points I’ve lain out before on Bilerico: that any boycott or action that performed on behalf of another group of people should go through them first, that the groups’ specific action is counterproductive to the goal of reducing homophobic violence in Jamaica, and that Red Stripe is a particularly poor target for this boycott because of its history as a corporate ally to Jamaica’s LGBTQ community.
I’ve asked the organizers (to no avail) repeatedly for even an argument as to why they think this boycott would reduce violence instead of handing Jamaicans in general a scapegoat (LGBTQ people) for economic woes that are likely to come anyway as the recession continues. There is a risk with any demonstration or action, and the people who will suffer if the action fails are the ones who should be able to decide, themselves, what level of risk they’re comfortable with.
Furthermore, the boycott organizers are not the experts on Jamaica here. Jamaican LGBTQ people are far more knowledgeable about their own country than almost any American is. Boycott Jamaica has repeatedly tried to ignore JFLAG’s opinion by making the dismissive argument that Jamaican LGBTQ people can’t speak on their own behalf and need generous Americans to do it for them, generally pointing to that one statement from Gareth Henry as proof of their claim.
The real question here is if there was any way at all for Jamaican LGBTQ people to express their opposition to the boycott and be taken seriously by the American boycotters. I hope that Gareth Henry’s statement causes some people to at least examine their positions more closely.

strongjamaica
April 18th, 2009 | LINK

look at the Google Ad advertising Jamaica LOL this is hilarious LOL try telling ad sense to stop putting up those ads LOL

strongjamaica
April 18th, 2009 | LINK

Another Gay Jamaica denouce boycott and its because he as no choice but because he talking the truth just read what he says and understand.

As a Jamaican gay activist living in Jamaica, I find the approach of these boycott organisers offensively paternalistic. Certainly it is well known that Jamaica is a violent and hostile place for gay people. But gay people here have been resisting that violence for some time. And as difficult as it is to see or as unsatisfactory as it seems to outsiders, everyday that there is one fewer homophobic attack or that we are able to speak in a forum about our challenges is a day of progress for us; everyday a group of gay men can go to a concert or play and be safe is a day or progress for us; everyday an obviously effeminate and feminised actor can go on stage unharmed and be the lead in the most popular plays in the country is progress for us. Our aim is to expand those small spaces. Some of us here prefer to frame our struggle as being about social transformation, not particularist rights.

People need to understand that we are not starting from the same place the boycotters are. This is why their context-devoid analysis is so puzzling. In one breath they castigate Red Stripe for not being strong enough in their support yet they claim that homophobia prevents gays from speaking out in the country. If homophobia has an impact on who speaks, it is more likely to be on those entities that are not specifically into the promotion of gay rights. Gay rights advocates have been speaking out, albeit, anonymously (and increasingly confidentially) but we are the gay rights activists, not Red Stripe. Red Stripe has more reason to be fearful about the repercussions of supporting gay rights than gay activists do.

Look guys, the last time we had foreigners calling for a boycott, there was a spike in homophobic violence in the island. When that happened, there were no foreigners around to help us deal with the fallout. Will the principals involved in this call be here this time around when those of us who are activists and who are becoming increasingly visible are the targets of a backlash? Will they help the gay community here when its voices are silenced?

Let me end by stating that there is a clear difference between martyrdom and victimhood. If we become martyrs in our own cause, very well. But we do not wish to be turned into victims of the excessive goodwill of others.

adrean
July 29th, 2009 | LINK

k look if yu gay no go a mi rasswhole country leave it alone and stop talking shitttttttttttttt
stay in the fucking cold and don’t go to any carribean country stay where u are and die

adrean
July 29th, 2009 | LINK

i love my sweet jamaica and i hate wen people talk shitt about itttt

Priya Lynn
July 29th, 2009 | LINK

Adrean, Jamaica is an evil hell hole. I wouldn’t go there if you paid me to.

Timothy Kincaid
July 29th, 2009 | LINK

As adrean has illustrated, many of the residents of Jamaica are filled with fear, hatred, and violence. It is, indeed, a place to be avoided for those who value life, decency, and humanity.

Jarvis
February 26th, 2010 | LINK

Hahah. I read a few comments an had to post something. It’s their culture so grow testicles or some thick skin, suck it up, and yes GET JESUS. Clearly they live on the most righteous rule of all written in the book. No batty boys (gays) are to walk on their land. How tight is that?! God made man and woman to reproduce.. Look at that like a basic fact. Two men is not only very dirty and disgusting, but not tolerated. I’m all for the violence and would participate in keeping the land clean in Jamaica. Jamaica has their act together on that part. Any other crimes can pass just as equal as anywhere else because some things just need to be done.

Jarvis
February 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ay an that’s fuc*ed up you put a bloodstain on their flag. You can write your little column and shuv twinkies into your damn face but don’t disrespect. You’re disgusting yourself matter of fact.

Timothy Kincaid
February 26th, 2010 | LINK

Jarvis,

You come here advocating for violence and then lecture me about respect. Sadly, I just don’t think you are intelligent enough to see to what extent hatred and religious zeal has perverted your thinking.

Priya Lynn
February 26th, 2010 | LINK

Right Jarvis, you’re all for killing gays, but we shouldn’t disrespect you by pointing out the bloodstain you put on the Jamaican flag. You are very dirty and disgusting and you won’t be tolerated here.

Patrick
April 1st, 2010 | LINK

Jamaica is a beautiful country with beautiful people! People in Jamaica are very laid back! I just got back from a trip from Jamaica and didn’t stay in the tourists areas and I was just fine. The people there are great! If you go in with a closed mind it won’t be a good experience for you! Have an open mind. Want to know the people there. There are some places that aren’t good but there are places that are just amazing! Just like in the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia etc. Don’t judge if you’ve never been there or have been there with a prejudged thought! People there are great people!

Timothy Kincaid
April 1st, 2010 | LINK

Sure, Patrick,

The people are great… except for that little problem with them wanting to kill me.

I guess when it come to getting murdered, I must have a “closed mind”.

Carmen
March 20th, 2011 | LINK

How dare you! I am from Jamaica and have never heard such things! How can you judge my country like that?!? It is just like saying that blacks shouldn’t move to America because they still have the KKK (which is not as bad as it was long ago) ! Yes I will admit that Jamaica isn’t what it used to be, but we are always welcoming to our tourist and visitors. If you have something to say check your facts and actually visit these countries.! If anything you should look out for Cuba and Hispaniola. the Bahamas are beautiful so is Barbados but yet no one says anything about them! Unlike America, the caribbean we stand as one and help eachother out so stop the nonsense about Jamaica being some horror country!

Priya Lynn
March 20th, 2011 | LINK

Carmen, Jamaica is welcoming to tourists and visitors if they aren’t gay. If they are then Jamaica is a horror country. We’ve seen many, many times that gays and lesbians in Jamaica are assualted and murdered for who they are. If you don’t like Jamaica’s reputation then put in some effort to stop the attacks on gays and lesbians.

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