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Gay Jamaicans get Church

Timothy Kincaid

September 25th, 2009

jamaica flagMicah Fink went to Jamaica to see first hand how hungry gay Jamaicans were for a safe space to worship and socialize together. Rev. Robert Griffin, a preacher with the Metropolitan Community Church comes monthly from Florida to hold secret church services. (MinnPost)

“We have to operate underground because of the hostility towards the gay and lesbian community here in Jamaica,” said Griffin, explaining that the location of this meeting is a closely held secret and that every service is arranged through word of mouth. “If it was known publicly where this congregation meets, I’m pretty sure there would be some type of violence toward the congregation.”

He also reports some of the first-hand stories that parishioners have shared with him.

And while firm statistics detailing anti-gay assaults, beatings and murders are difficult to find — mostly because the police are as likely to harass a victim of a gay assault as they are to help — it seems that almost every member of Jamaica’s gay community that I encountered had at least one, if not several, personal horror stories to relate.

In just one packed afternoon, I met one woman who was shot several times by a gunman who shouted out “de lesbian fi dead” (the lesbian must die), as he pulled the trigger. One man told me his best friend was murdered, chopped into pieces with a machete, and had the skin flayed from his face; he then went on to relate how another gay friend was locked up in his parent’s house by a group of gunmen who then set the building on fire and burned him alive.

Then there was another congregant whose features appeared in video shot at a gay birthday party that became a black-market best seller after a copy was stolen and then released on the streets. He’s had to abandon his home twice, in two different cities, after neighbors saw the video, recognized him and made plans to kill him. And he’s one of the lucky ones, the man says, since he’s lived to tell the tale — unlike four other gay men he knows who had the misfortune to appeared in the video and were later hunted down and murdered.

And Griffin knows that those who should be standing against evil are instead encouraging it.

“Ministers here are endorsing violent acts, calls for murder, to incite riots,” Griffin said. “I hear it being done here, I read it in the papers here, I have even heard it myself. They tell me: ‘We don’t believe in homosexuality and homosexuals should be killed because that’s what the scripture says.'”

I commend Griffin for seeking to start a new dialogue, one in which religion is not a cover for murder, one which calls for decency and humanity. Truly he is putting his life at risk.

Comments

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September 25th, 2009 | LINK

Now that’s a REAL case of Christian persecution in the Western hemisphere. And to think that American fundies complain that they’re not being allowed to cram their religion down everyone’s throats.

Andrew
September 25th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t really have words for this. It’s disgusting.

KZ
September 26th, 2009 | LINK

How can we stop this? I’d like to see international pressure on Jamaica, but the Jamaican government could just threaten to adopt stricter laws(stricter than ones in Uganda) against its gay community.

Christopher Waldrop
September 26th, 2009 | LINK

While all these stories are horrifying, I’m especially concerned about the “video shot at a gay birthday party that became a black-market best seller”.

This makes it sound like people in Jamaica are so eager to kill homosexuals in their midst that they’re willing to pay for information about who’s gay. I don’t doubt that this is the case, but that’s a horrifying thought. It means that Jamaicans aren’t content to simply find out someone’s homosexual before acting. They’re actively seeking homosexuals, and maybe even making an organized effort to do so.

mikeksf
September 26th, 2009 | LINK

This is just more horrible information. I’ve been trying to find out Ziggy Marley’s position on gay murder in his culture, but to no avail. For all his Rasta tunes of god and love and we are one brotherhood he certainly seems quiet on gay hatred in his homeland. His music is a major export of Jamaica. I think he would be a good target for boycotting with a demand that he speak out and condemn the violence.

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September 26th, 2009 | LINK

mikeksf:

Whatever he thinks about all this: making it public would affect his sales from either side.

Ivan
September 27th, 2009 | LINK

A British honorary consul was recently murdered in Jamaica.

Jamaican piloce claimed the murder was not homophobic despite a note found next to the body calling him “batty man” and claiming “this is what will happen to ALL gays”.

http://tinyurl.com/ya3xh2v

And more generally:

http://tinyurl.com/yc8t554

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