Posts Tagged As: Jamaica

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.

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

Timothy Kincaid

August 12th, 2008

jamaica-flag.bmpOccasionally 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.

Almost Getting It

This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of other authors at this site.

Timothy Kincaid

April 17th, 2008

I can’t report every homophobic rant that comes out of Jamaica. We’d hardly have time and space for anything else.

However, one letter to the editor illustrates not only the mindset of this island nation but also the thinking process of a great many anti-gay Christians in the United States as well.

I am replying to a letter by one Patrick Harding in which it was stated that one did not choose to be gay. I cannot conceive how a loving God would create someone with a gay gene and then have it stated in the Bible that it is an abomination.

I once came to the same question as Elaine McDonald wrote to the Jamaica Gleaner. But my questioning came to a different conclusion.

Elaine, like so very many Christians, believes that her religious beliefs define the world around her. If “God said it”, or more realistically, if her prejudices are confirmed by her interpretation of Scripture, then it really doesn’t much matter what is factual; she’s already knows what is “true”.

But this statement of hers has three assumptions: 1) God is loving, 2) homosexuality is stated in the Bible to be an abomination, and 3) a loving God would not create someone only to declare them abominable. From this she concludes that God didn’t create someone gay.

McDonald, in her unwillingness to look at all of the variables of her logic, comes to the wrong conclusion. But at least she sees the inconsistency.

I agree with her point 3 as a matter of definition. Although some religious folk believe that God predestines some to eternal torture, I cannot fathom that such a deity could be described as “loving”. Such a god, though an object to fear, would not be worthy of adoration or praise.

Thus either God is not loving, gay people become so of their own volition, or the condition of being homosexual is not an abomination.*

I knew, unquestionably, that neither I nor other gay people made a conscious decision to be same-sex attracted. God had, whether by means of genetics, environment, or some other method, created us irrevocably gay.

So I then had to determine whether or not He condemned me for the way he created me, thus earning my eternal derision and scorn. As I began to study, it became clear to me that being homosexual is not in any place condemned in scripture.

This is where I think much anti-gay and ex-gay theology falls apart. There is an insistence that recognizing or accepting one’s attractions is sinful. But the rather simple-thinking Elaine McDonald has put her finger on the logical inconsistencies of their argument. In order for a “homosexual identity” (which is, of course, nothing more than a recognition of the direction of ones own attractions) to be “a sinful lifestyle”, then one must believe that God is capricious and cruel.

And sadly, reorientation is not the answer. In almost no instances do same-sex attractions change, leaving those who continue to struggle with little hope of redemption. All that the anti-gays and ex-gays can do is to play semantics games about “identity” and “change”.

As for whether specific sexual acts are universally condemned, that is a matter of great debate between various theologies. And I do respect those who, for religious reasons, live celebately and yet dismiss both the games and the condemnation as contrary to gospel.

Personally, I believe that it’s rather unlikely that the correct interpretation of Scripture is one that condemns a specific subset of the population to a life without love. This seems rather odd from a God that places little importance in the distinctions of race, sex, personal situation or political power.

But, as McDonald clearly illustrates, there is no practical distinction in society or the church between those who are same-sex attracted and those who express such an attraction with a partner of the same sex. Rampant anti-gay discrimination and homophobia do not distinguish between the two.

So the next time you hear someone insisting that “there is no gay gene”, just realize that they are acting out of their understanding of the nature of God. And as the preponderance of evidence as to the biological basis of orientation becomes more evident, their internal dissonance will become stronger.

And although some may then argue their newfound distinction between orientation and behavior, they all know that this is a losing argument so most will either become ever more shrill or will quietly go away.

So although the ‘no gay gene’ers may seem the most hateful, it’s probably because they really almost get it. And it’s tearing them apart.

* The atheists among us could argue that another alternative is that God does not exist. I concede that logic but this does not add much to the point of my commentary and is not a subject of this thread.

More Homophobia Spewing out of Jamaica

Timothy Kincaid

April 14th, 2008

It is not surprising that there is more rhetoric coming out of Jamaica’s religious community about the evils of homosexuality. Here’s a little sample from Donald Rubie with something called Green Light Ministry.

Rubie does not like the notion of a boycott

All economic boycotts are of the devil, regardless of the apparent nobility behind it. People must submit to truth not to money; for you cannot serve God and mammon (riches).

No economic boycott shall stand against Jamaica; for the Lord does not require any nation to support homosexuality. The Lord shall judge Jamaica for her wickedness; but judgement shall turn into blessing as Jamaica submits to the truth.

But Rubie does not stop at objecting to economic sanctions.

It’s only in pride that people practice immoral lifestyles; essentially saying we will do what we want. This is why the Lord hates the proud; so He abases them (cuts them down).

The homosexual movement in Toronto centres around “pride week”, where homosexuals parade half-naked (and fully naked) along Church Street; bidding the world to join them. This parade is akin to the carnival festivals in the Caribbean and Caribana in Toronto. It’s a feast of the flesh. What people are saying at these “pride parades” is that they are proud to be an abomination to the Lord (regardless if they are frolicking in the whoredoms of carnival or abominations of gay pride). However, the time has come for the Sovereign Lord to judge the wickedness of the people. Those who want a way out of homosexuality can find a way in Christ Jesus; however those who operate by pride will be cut down in the day that the Lord judges Toronto.

Should there be any surprise when others are inspired by his words to go “cut down” the proud wicked homosexuals? They are, after all, “hated by the Lord”.

The reason that Jamaica is considered one of the most homophobic places on the planet is because of the attitudes illustrated by Rubie. As the rest of the civilized world objects to violence and murder, Jamaica’s voices of religion seek to defend and justify their own society’s inhumanity and to instead blame the victims.

Jamaica Gleaner Continues Its Hate Campaign

Timothy Kincaid

April 12th, 2008

The Jamaica Gleaner published another letter to the editor today. And, not surprisingly, it offered the obligatory “don’t beat them” statements while seeking to justify just such action.

This thing about gays and the rights they have and the rights they want is downright ungodly. If they want to be that way, it is their business; why make it everyone else’s? Has anyone thought about the rights of the people who do not want their children exposed to that kind of nastiness?

I wonder if the cruise ships that stop in Jamaica know that they are placing their gay passengers – or those who might be mistaken for gay – in danger.

Jamaica Gleaner Calls for “Dealing” with Homosexuality

Timothy Kincaid

April 10th, 2008

In an article by contributor Thomas Phinemann, the Jamaica Gleaner takes on the issue of homosexuality. Initially it appears as though it is a call for reason, but it quickly devolves into blaming gay Jamaicans for the violence enacted against them:

How can we coexist in peace? We need to start talking to each other. Tolerating homosexuals does not mean condoning or accepting homosexuality. It means that heterosexuals need to accept that there are homosexuals in this world and as human beings they have a right to be in the universe. Homosexuals need to understand that heterosexuals find the lifestyle of homosexuals objectionable, and homosexuals should not flaunt their lifestyle in public and provoke heterosexuals.

After talking about “battle lines” and “no compromise, no middle ground” for those who believe the Bible, Phinemann expresses his views which are, sadly, the predominant views on the island:

In my view, changing the law to accommodate ‘buggery’ is the precursor to changing the law to accommodate bestiality and incest. Men, we agree to disagree on the issue of homosexuality. Let us be respectful of each other as we deal with this issue.

Phinemann and the Gleaner no doubt pride themselves that they are calling for peace. He does end his article with “Let there be no hunting and no flaunting.”

But their peace speaks only to their own desires – the justification of violence and the villification of those they dislike. Under the “peace” of the Gleaner and Phinemann, gay men and women – or those who “flaunt” their existence – continue to be beaten and murdered. And what kind of “dealing” can there be for those who must remain invisible or suffer the consequence of “provoking” heterosexuals?

But now the Gleaner and others in positions of influence can wash their hands and claim that they tried.

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.

NYT Reports Jamaica’s Anti-Gay Violence, Ex-Gay Efforts

Timothy Kincaid

February 25th, 2008

jamaica-flag.bmpThe New York Times has an article today on the dangerous atmosphere in Jamaica.

Being gay in Jamaica is not easy. For years, human rights groups have denounced the harassment, beating and even killing of gays here, to little avail. No official statistic has been compiled on the number of attacks. But a recent string of especially violent, high-profile assaults has brought fresh condemnation to an island otherwise known as an easygoing tourist haven.

In times past, I have criticized the ex-gay movement, particularly members of the Exodus Global Alliance, for what I perceived as encouragement of hostilities towards gays. This article sheds light on what might well be the motivations of this branch of the Exodus family.

Since the attack, Andre said, he has been trying to undo his gayness, following a common view here that it is an acquired behavior that can be dropped if only one prays more and pays more attention to the opposite sex.

He fled Mandeville after the attack and found refuge at the home of a pastor, who now delivers at-home sermons to him on how he must change.

With the pastor standing over him, Andre said he would try to be attracted to women, if only so he would never be beaten again.

I am still waiting for those who rail against the “sin of homosexuality” to weigh in on the sin of murder. At times I wonder if the Church has spent so much effort on combatting the “immorality” of others that they haven’t completely lost their authority for fighting what is truly evil.

Jamaican Church all but Endorses Violence Against Gays

Timothy Kincaid

February 18th, 2008

jamaica-flag.bmpAs we have reported before, Jamaica is a violent, homophobic, dangerous place and ought to be avoided by all persons who care about civil rights. We were not alone in our observations.

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.

Rev. Nancy Wilson, MCC’s leader, and a contingent of religious leaders from the MCC’s Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale met with Jamaican Consulate General Richard Allicock and three top staff members for more than an hour in the consulate’s office in downtown Miami.

“We were encouraged,” Wilson told a group of about 25 protesters who came to Miami for the protest from Sarasota, Boynton Beach and Fort Lauderdale. “We had a frank honest discussion. We’re engaged in a long-term discussion and were not going to stop until gays and lesbians are protected in Jamaica.”

Rev. Wilson’s demands were neither extreme nor unreasonable

that the government launch an educational campaign to decry anti-gay violence in Jamaica, and that the Jamaican police begin sensitivity training regarding the GLBT community

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, pastor of the Fellowship Taber-nacle in St Andrew, said that Jamaicans generally deem homo-sexuality 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.

“Homosexuality is wrong from every possible angle,” said Miller. “It’s immoral from a physical, social and spiritual standpoint.” He said that despite this, the Church was willing to help and support those homosexuals who are in need of counselling or assistance to change their lifestyle.

“I have no problem in supporting and helping someone who sees that he is going the wrong way and wants help in changing his life, but where I draw the line is when you say that it is OK and want to force others to accept your abnormal behaviour,” he added.


The Rev Dr Lloyd Maxwell, of the AGAPE Christian Fellowship in Portmore, said that Scripture takes a very clear stance on the matter of homosexuality and, as such, the Church would not sanction nor encourage the lifestyle.

Rev Maxwell said the idea of conducting a public awareness campaign to sensitise Jamaicans on the issue is ludicrous.

With the media and the church openly endorsing homophobia and refusing to condemn the murder of gay men, I have little hope that violence against gays will diminish in Jamaica.

Conditions Remain Frightening for Gays in Jamaica

Timothy Kincaid

February 1st, 2008

jamaica-flag.bmpHuman Rights Watch reports:

On the evening of January 29, a group of men approached a house where four males lived in the central Jamaican town of Mandeville, and demanded that they leave the community because they were gay, according to human rights defenders who spoke with the victims. Later that evening, a mob returned and surrounded the house. The four men inside called the police when they saw the crowd gathering; the mob started to attack the house, shouting and throwing bottles. Those in the house called police again and were told that the police were on the way. Approximately half an hour later, 15-20 men broke down the door and began beating and slashing the inhabitants.

Human rights defenders who spoke to the victims also reported that police arrived half an hour after the mob had broken into the house – 90 minutes after the men first called for help. One of the victims managed to flee with the mob pursuing. A Jamaican newspaper reported that blood was found at the mouth of a nearby pit, suggesting he had fallen inside or may have been killed nearby. The police escorted the three other victims away from the scene; two of them were taken to the hospital. One of the men had his left ear severed, his arm broken in two places, and his spine reportedly damaged.

A Warning – this is not a place that is safe for anyone to visit. Those societies that encourage violence seldom stop with a single victim. One should not assume that you may not be the next target.

A Question – do those media outlets that run advertisments singing, “Come to Jamaica and Feel Alright” yet which refuse to report the ongoing campaign of terror against gay persons on the island have any responsibility should a gay tourist be hurt or killed?

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