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Protest adds to Jamaican debates about homosexuality

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.

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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.”

View Comment (1)
  • Beenie man can for all I care talk about his understanding of gays have changed, the man is a musician and cannot afford to keep losing income through boycotts. The last time he made an apology, shortly after he came out ‘clarifying’ his position after backlash from other Jamaican dancehall artistes.

    As I’ve said to many, Mrs. Simpson Miller’s promise of a review of the buggery law is just a promise, also unless community work is done no MP is going to risk losing their constituency and being branded a supporter of ‘di battyman dem’ (the gays).

    We cannot know truthfully who kills who because the prevailing notion in Jamaica is that ‘battyman kill battyman’ (gay men kill each other). This is from the man on the street, the tv personality, and the police. Can it be possible that the exisiting prejudice prevents the police from doing their work? We really don’t know.

    Unfortunately for too long LGBT activists have lumped everything under Gay men and HIV, for this reason people like Dr. Wayne West (ISCHAR foundation) can argue that removing the buggery law will not help to stem the rate of HIV, I think his argument is quack but he has one none-the-less. This is why the concept of Quality of Citizenship really caught me when said by Julie Oyegun. No government, no individual can truly brush aside the implications of this concept without showing themselves as being uncaring to one of the basic issues LGBT people face- the quality and value of their citizenship.

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