Jamaican paper pushes gay marriage; should gays worry?

Jamaica Gleaner logoThe Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, the country’s most influential and probably its largest, has endorsed same-sex marriage, which local LGBT rights activists have not been pushing for.
In passing, the newspaper’s editorial spoke against the “buggery law” that makes male homosexual activity a crime in Jamaica. That law has been local activists’ primary target.

Javed Jaghai of the LGBT rights group J-FLAG is  challenging the constitutionality of the Jamaican “buggery law.”
Javed Jaghai of the LGBT rights group J-FLAG is challenging the constitutionality of the Jamaican “buggery law.”

The editorial stated that Jamaica’s law against same-sex marriage “has its foundation in a deep-seated, if slowly receding, homophobia that has caused us to maintain the buggery provisions, which, essentially, criminalise male homosexuality and allows the State the role of commissar of sexual preferences and to invade the privacy of people’s bedrooms. It matters nought that the power is little used; its existence is chilling.”
One activist commented about the editorial, “This was totally unexpected! The Jamaican LGBT community has NOT been lobbying for marriage equality. Clearly, the country’s intelligentsia is far ahead of the LGBT liberation movement.”
This is the photo of worshipers that accompanies the announcement of the Prayer 2000 march on the Encounter Gospel News blog.
This photo of worshipers accompanied publicity for a march in favor of the buggery law in 2013.

The constitutionality of the buggery law is currently being challenged before Jamaica’s supreme court. In that court case, Javed Jaghai, education and outreach officer for the Jamaican LGBT rights group J-FLAG and allies are opposed by Christian leaders who support the law.
In some other countries with anti-gay laws, the issue of same-sex marriage has  led to crackdowns on local LGBT communities, even though local LGBT rights activists were not seeking marriage equality.
In Zambia, after an apparent attempt by four same-sex couples to register as married in March 2013, government officials protested and called for the public to report all homosexuals to police.  In the resulting crackdown, several LGBT people are on trial or awaiting trial in Zambia, where they face the possibility of spending 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
In Nigeria, the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law” was passed this year, although no one in Nigeria was advocating for same-sex marriage. That law makes it a crime to marry a member of the same sex or to attend such a wedding, but the main effect of the law has been dozens of arrests of apparently LGBT people. The new law provides for prison sentences of 10 years for belonging to a gay organization and for public displays of same-sex affection.

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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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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