Top 10 LGBT achievements in 2012 in Jamaica

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG) and Anti-Gay Fact Check (AGFC) compiled a list of the top achievements affecting LGBT people in Jamaica.

Beenie Man (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Beenie Man (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The organizations noted that “2012 was another challenging year but there are a number of noteworthy achievements. Jamaicans—government and citizens—continue to show we are able to recognize and respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, regardless of our differences.”

About 20 percent of Jamaicans are supportive of LGBT people and their rights, according to two surveys.  “The 2012 Boxill Survey on Homophobia showed that one in five Jamaicans respects LGBT people. Additionally, one in five would support a Charter of Rights that includes sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination,” the organizations stated. These are the Top 10 achievements they cited for 2012:

Jamaican university security guard attacks a student suspected of being gay. (Click the image for link to the YouTube video.)
UTech security guard in Kingston, Jamaica, hits a student suspected of being gay. (Click the image to see the video on YouTube. WARNING: Text associated with the video is offensive. The confrontation is visible in the second half of the video.)

1. Strong official response to a homophobic beating in November

“In an unprecedented move, the administration of the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica has shown great leadership following the homophobic beating of an alleged gay student by other students and security guards on November 1, 2012. The university has undertaken a number of initiatives to address the matter, including the development of a plan of action for strengthening tolerance and respect for diversity among its various populations. It has held public discussions regarding tolerance and has developed diversity-training courses for security personnel to begin this year.”

2. Official study of crimes against LGBTs

“The Ministry of National Security (MNS) has agreed to conduct a study (this year) on perceptions of safety and security within the LGBT community. The Ministry has expanded the 2013 Jamaica National Crime Victimization Survey (JNCVS) to include questions about crimes believed to result from assumptions about the sexual orientation of victims.”

3. Improved relations between LGBT advocates and police

“J-FLAG continued to strengthen its relationship with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), including the Office of the Police Commissioner. This has led to an increase in LGBT persons reporting homophobic crimes and harassment to the police. The JCF has also named sexual orientation as a protected identity in the Police Ethics and Diversity Policy. Additionally, J-FLAG is part of a task force commissioned by the Police Commissioner to review issues within the St Andrew Central police division and identify and develop strategies to address them.”

4. Some public support for improved security for LGBTs

“About a third of the population —- over 900,0000 Jamaicans -— believe the government is not doing enough to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination.”

5. Lawsuit over blocked TV ad seeking respect for LGBT people

"Love and Respect" video, rejected by Jamaican broadcasters.
Scene from “Love and Respect” video, rejected by Jamaican broadcasters. (Click on the image to watch the video.)

“An unprecedented constitutional legal challenge launched by human rights lawyer Maurice Tomlinson (of AIDS Free World) against Television Jamaica (TVJ), Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBCJ) and CVM for their refusal to air an advertisement promoting the humanity of LGBT people. This is the first use of the (new) Charter of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to access the media.

6. Progress in the entertainment industry

“Beenie Man (Moses David) in a very bold move apologised for anti-gay music he produced and performed in the past. Later in the year, international reggae artiste, Diana King, came out as Jamaica’s first lesbian entertainer. To top it off LIME canceled its school campaign with Potential Kidd as a result of national outcry over lyrics, which glorified (and promoted) sexual violence as better than being gay.”

7. Improved access to health care

“Research by the Ministry of Health shows that more gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are accessing health facilities for services related to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Twenty public health professionals from Kingston & St Andrew, St James and St Ann completed a nine-module capacity building training hosted by J-FLAG to better provide services to the LGBT community.”

8. Public forum on homophobic bullying

“J-FLAG hosted its first public forum on homophobic bullying and human rights on May 17, 2012 at which the Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites was the keynote speaker. Other government ministries were represented.”

Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica's minister of health.
Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica’s minister of health.

9. Health minister suggests changing the buggery law

“In December 2012, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson highlighted at some events that the buggery law should be amended for Jamaica to better facilitate the rights and development of LGBT Jamaicans.”

10.  Expanded media coverage of LGBT issues

“Increased media output on human rights and LGBT issues, including the launch of Anti-Gay Fact Check (AGFC), television and radio interviews. There were also a number of media exposes on the situation of homelessness among gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans.”

The groups said in summary:

“These achievements remind us that regardless of the colour of our skin, race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographical location and other priceless unique qualities that we are all one people — we are one Jamaica— and we can respect everyone.

“This year let us endeavour to be even more respectful to each other. It is only with respect and embracing our common humanity that Jamaica can be a safe, cohesive and just society. Together, we can put aside the grievances that drive prejudice, inequality, crime, violence and intolerance to build Jamaica land we love.

“As we continue to celebrate our 50th year of independence we must continue to be courageous and commit to rebuilding this great nation on the principles of mutual respect and equality as clearly articulated by our motto ‘Out of Many, One People’. Gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian, JLP or PNP let us use our talents and resources to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.”

Read the full press release here: http://www.jflag.org/2013/01/top-10-lgbt-achievements-in-2012/

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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