Jamaican tabloid's strategy: Boost homophobia

A Jamaican activist writes:
The homophobic tabloid, the Jamaica Observer (owned by the principals of Sandals Resorts) published this very suspect article on the front page [June 11]:

Male jogger gang-raped
Man assaulted in early-morning attack by armed men at Queen Hill.

The Jamaica Observer published this photo of a jogger with the online version of its front-page story.
The Jamaica Observer published this random photo of a jogger with the online version of its front-page story.

PEOPLE who flock Queen Hill in St Andrew to jog or walk in the mornings are now apprehensive following the brutal gang-rape of a male jogger in that community early Monday.
The man, the Jamaica Observer was told, is now suffering from serious injuries and mental trauma after the harrowing experience.
A group of joggers reportedly found the victim naked, with his hands and feet bound, sitting on the sidewalk at the foot of the hill close to Perkins Boulevard.
“He was found by some females who were shocked and even more surprised to see that he was bleeding heavily from his rectum,” one man, who said he assisted in untying the victim, told the Observer.
The man reportedly parked his car at a nearby apartment complex and was about to jog when a white car drove up with two armed men who held him at gunpoint. The men, our source said, were also carrying knives.
The hoodlums proceeded to tear off the jogger’s clothes and took turns at buggering him. (Read more)

This is the second inflammatory anti-gay article by the Observer in less than a week. Just this past Sunday the front-page headline screamed “Homo Thugs: Gun-toting gays drive fear in citizens of garrison communities.”

Jamaica Observer front-page story.
Jamaica Observer front-page story.

[Editor’s note: The examples that the “Homo Thugs” article relies on to make its case for the existence of “gun-toting gays” are primarily:

  • Statements that some LGBTI people live in tough Jamaican neighborhoods without being harassed: “evidence is suggesting that homosexuals are living openly in some of the country’s notoriously tough garrisons without hassle or intimidation.” Also, “police have knowledge of persons who are said to be homosexual who live openly and are not mobbed, beaten or heckled.”
  • A statement from an unnamed source that some high-level criminals are gay: “A reliable police source said that it is common knowledge in the constabulary that some of the top names in the criminal underworld were homosexual and had relations with multiple gay partners. However, because of their fearsome reputations, many persons who know of their lifestyle keep their mouths tightly shut in fear for their lives.”]

Needless to say, both articles were poorly researched and relied mostly on unsubstantiated hearsay.
I do not find their publication to be coincidental as the Observer also reported last Friday that a joint select committee of the Jamaica Parliament is expected to return with its recommendations on the anti-sodomy law by the end of this week.
These Observer stories can reasonably be seen as an attempt to poison the minds of the Parliamentarians against any recognition of the rights of LGBT Jamaicans.
The irony is that the anti-sodomy law as currently worded would give more rights to a person who raped a male than a female. This is because the 1864 anti-sodomy law imposes a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for any form of anal intercourse (whether or not it is consensual). HOWEVER, vaginal rape carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This ridiculous anomaly arose after the 2009 revision to the Sexual Offences Act, which deliberately excluded any reference to buggery, as that was said to be legalizing sodomy “through the back door.” (This horrible pun was used by a government minister during the first set of debates on the 2009 Sexual Offences Act).
I am very pessimistic that even if the Parliamentary sub-committee recommended a reading down of the anti-sodomy law to exclude private acts of intimacy between consenting males, that our Parliament would act on this recommendation. This is because the Minister of Justice, who himself has repeatedly expressed his objection to the law, has declared that the majority of Jamaicans still support it. This implies that he has no choice but to recognize the democratic will of the people. Of course, that reasoning flies in the face of our constitutional democracy, which is supposed to protect vulnerable minorities from the tyranny of majoritarian rule!

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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