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Jamaica Boycott: What Are The Alternatives?

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2009

Yesterday, I provided a quick update to the Jamaican Boycott. In that post, I noted the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, Allsexuals and Gays’ (JFLAG) opposition to that boycott. But as I demonstrated, JFLAG’s position doesn’t speak for all LGBT Jamaicans any more than the HRC speaks for all LGBT Americans. I also closed with this question:

To those who are against the boycott, I have one thing I\’d be interested in learning: what do you think ought to be done differently from what has been tried before — assuming you really want a different result?

Today, JFLAG’s blog has joined the debate in two posts. The first is a repost of Michael Airhart’s article on Jamaican voices in support of the boycott. The second is a post which defends JFLAG’s opposition to the boycott, and ends with a re-wording of a similar question I asked yesterday:

Do any of you support this boycott? If not, what alternatives, if any, are there for helping the LGBT people of Jamaica in a respectful manner?



April 15th, 2009 | LINK

I have a related question regarding the boycott and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts.

I get e-mails from Liberty Travel. I think they are national and every storefront I pass has a rainbow flag on it. They are part of IGLTA as far as I know.

And yet, they are always promoting vacations to Jamaica and the obnoxiously heterosexist Sandals resorts. How can they promote themselves as gay-friendly and participate in promoting these locations. Furthermore, has IGLTA taken a stance one way or the other on the boycott?

April 15th, 2009 | LINK

how about exposing and going after the conservative churches/orgs in the US who are going down in Jamaica and bankrolling some of the homobigots? Has anyone contacted JFLAG and asked them specifically how they would like your help? What has been the response? I mean, this question should have been the first thing, not an after thought.

Adam Kautz
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

Actually Matt Sandals Resorts aren’t heterosexist anymore, they do now allow gay couples to stay at their resorts whereas before it was straight couples only.

Timothy Kincaid
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

For me this is a two-parter.

1. I’m not really invested in the boycott of Jamaican beer and rum. I don’t drink the stuff and I was under the impression that these companies were not ragingly homophobic.

I’ll support the effort if it’s determined that this is an important and necessary part, but if the boycott on the beer and rum were lifted I wouldn’t object.

2. However, I can not in good conscience support anyone traveling to this country. Not only as a matter of protest, but also as a matter of protection.

I have read enough responses to my articles here to know that Jamaicans as a whole do not feel that there is anything wrong with beating gay men to death. It’s part of their culture and HOW DARE I object.

So there is no way I would let a gay friend – or really anyone – go to this horrid violent hate-filled evil place. And there’s no way I’ll stop warning others of the attitudes, culture, and behavior of those on the island for as long as they hold their homophobic traditions to be of more importance and value to them than the safety of visitors and the respect of the world.

April 15th, 2009 | LINK

I have no opinion, mainly because it doesn’t affect my life. I don’t drink beer or rum and my vacations are all domestic and the same is true of those around me. Is there anything left for me to boycott?

Priya Lynn
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

Well Ephilei, I don’t drink or take vacations either but I most definitely have an opinion. Just because I am not directly affected doesn’t mean I won’t oppose evil wherever it exists. I fully support this boycott and the attempts to encourage Jamaicans to abandon their evil ways.

David C.
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

My favorite rum is Myers’s Rum, which is a brand of Jamaican dark rum produced by Diageo PLC. This is the rum that got “dumped” in front the Stonewall Inn a day or so ago.

The only reason I mention this is that the parent company, Diageo, is based in the UK. Perhaps it would be helpful to work through the parent company to use its influence on the subsidiary to come out against persecution of gay people in Jamaica, and for that matter, everywhere their products are produced and distributed.

I’m pretty sure even the most assiduous teetotaler could get behind such an initiative, and in the case of Jamaica, perhaps even JFLAG.

April 15th, 2009 | LINK

You misspelled the acronym for the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, Allsexuals and Gays as “JFAG.”

Jim Burroway
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

Oh dear! I’ve fixed the typo, and I apologize for the error.

Jason D
April 15th, 2009 | LINK

why is there a boycott of Red Stripe? They’re owned by diageo which got a PERFECT SCORE from the HRC.

Don’t we generally want to CONGRATULATE our allies?

April 15th, 2009 | LINK

Perhaps higher-ups at Red Stripe can be persuaded to put pressure on the Jamaican government to do something about the violence.

Tom in Lazybrook
April 19th, 2009 | LINK

A couple of thoughts on this. I think that the people at Diageo (I’ve been in contact with them for years) are willing to do reasonable actions in order to work with us.

Here’s what we should be doing.

1) Certainly go after those in our community that sell space on cruises stopping in Jamaica.

2) Substitute Ocean Spray (who continues to support anti-Gay concerts in Jamaica for Diageo)

3) Get in the bigots faces. I like the pr campaign … Jamaica = violence. Do that in NYC and South Florida. Do it if possible in straight venues. That will get their attention. And more free PR.

4) Go after US companies that aid Jamaican tourism. Ocean Spray is one. US airlines are another.

5) Think locally. Perhaps the Fort Lauderdale Airport Authority could be convinced to put up a sign at the Air Jamaica check in counter saying ” The City of Fort Lauderdale deplores the level of violence and lynchings in Jamaica. Think twice before travelling”. It would really be embarrasing for the Ja govt if something like that happened.

6) International festivals and government sponsored festivals that promote and celebrate Ja culture in the USA should be protested. Raise hell when your tax dollars go to support the Buju Banton Caribbean Fest this summer. For example, the City of Chicago taxpayers have PAID money to sponsor Beenie Man the last two summers (throught the City of Chicago Parks Board). The City of San Diego paid for Buju Banton (through a grant from the SD Port Authority to the World Beat Foundation). These should be protested vigorously. Those actions should wait until after the events have been announced. That way, the protest against those events and taxpayer funding get maximum attention that can be used to highlight J’can oppression. It isn’t just about murder music. But it can be a way to focus on murder country.

Usually events at public venues simply cannot be cancelled (even the Klan has a right to rent out the civic center or a public park). But what about getting 10 or 12 people to protest the event with 35 or so coffins, each bearing the names of a lynched Jamaican (that has gone unpunished). That would make a PR splash.

7) Get acquainted with the travel sections of newspapers and websites. Never let an opportunity pass to rebut the assertion that a J’can vacation is a great value or a relaxing tranquil choice.

This could be done on the cheap.

Tom in Lazybrook
April 19th, 2009 | LINK

Oops. Ocean Spray is not a part of Diageo. They sponsor Jamaican tourism through their promotion of Buju Banton and Beenie Man concerts in Jamaica (geared towards tourism). Diageo agreed to stop sponsoring violence promoting concerts. Ocean Spray never responded.

Its about keeping Jamaica in the press. And one final nagging item. Why is Kat Melua’s song “whine up” played in Gay Bars? It is featuring Elephant Man, who celebrates genocide against Gays in his music. I say that we might be able to direct a little anger towards her (and get PR in the process) by banning her music unless she condemns Elephant Man publically in the J’can press.

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