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Protest adds to Jamaican debates about homosexuality

A month after an anti-homosexuality protest fizzled in Cameroon, a Christian group is seeking its own anti-homosexuality march in Jamaica, where debates over homosexuality have been raging recently.

Love March 2012 poster
Love March 2012 poster

Love March 2012 is scheduled for Sept. 15 in the capital of Kingston.

The organizers make an effort to emphasize that they “love homosexuals,” but they lump together “porn, fornication and homosexuality,” opposing all three simultaneously.

They do not acknowledge the goodness — or even the existence — of committed, loving same-sex relationships.

The group also opposes repeal of Jamaica’s anti-buggery law, which provides for prison sentences of up to 10 years for male homosexual activity.

One of the Biblical texts that they cite prominently, 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, contains a condemnation of something often translated as “homosexuality” —  “effeminate” in the King James Version — although the word does not refer to anything like modern committed same-sex relationships, which were unknown at the time when the letter to the Corinthians was written in the 1st century.

Homosexuality has been a controversial issue in Jamaica recently.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/Agencia Brasil via WikiMedia Commons)
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert/Agencia Brasil via WikiMedia Commons)

The country has a reputation as an intensely homophobic nation, despite Prime Minister  Portia Simpson-Miller’s position against discrimination on the basis of  sexual orientation. She has suggested a review of the country’s buggery laws.

Part of that reputation is due to the popularity of Jamaican singers with violent anti-gay lyrics.  For example, a song by reggae star Beenie Man stated, “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays.”  He has since apologized for such lyrics and said his understanding of gays has changed.

Gay activists argue that stigma against homosexuals forces gay and bisexual men to hide their sexuality, which keeps them from learning how to protect themselves from AIDS.  In Jamaica, the HIV infection rate is estimated at 25 percent or more among men who have sex with men, compared to 1.7 percent in the overall population.

Human rights activists seek action to curtail Jamaica’s high rate of murders of gays and lesbians.  Police and activists argue about how many of those murders are gay-on-gay crime and how many are caused by homophobia.

Jamaican gay activist Maurice Tomlinson fled the country in January because of death threats he received after his marriage to his partner was publicized.

For Jamaican activist Angeline Jackson, the march’s focus on homosexuality is part of a fundamentalist Christian strategy to “to erode current Jamaican culture and impose Christian fundamentalism.”  She proclaims, “It is time for the rest of Jamaicans who are tired of this hostile takeover of beautiful Jamaica to come forward, the Progressive Christians, non-Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists. We need to rise up and take a stand.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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