In Jamaica, summertime is gay-bashing time

Crowd at May Pen shopping area tries to photograph a man trapped in a store for wearing lipstick. (Click image for video)
Crowd at May Pen shopping area tries to photograph a man trapped in a store for allegedly wearing lipstick. (Click image for video)

On June 27, I will be appearing in court in Jamaica as counsel in the case brought by AIDS-Free World to challenge the Jamaican anti-sodomy law.
In the meantime, the anti-gay rhetoric is heating up (which is usual for the summer period). On June 14, we saw the savage mob attack on an ALLEGED gay man for ALLEGEDLY putting on lipstick in a public mall in May Pen.
Dr. Brendan Bain, professor of community health at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)
Brendan Bain (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

Jamaican churches are now planning a massive demonstration in the heart of Kingston to protest the dismissal of Prof. Bain (who has since been reinstated by a court injunction). Bain had provided an expert testimony in support of the anti-sodomy law in Belize. [See “AIDS program ousts leader who embraces anti-gay laws.”]
At the same time, the Minister of Youth is investigating the possibility of suing the largest human rights group, Jamaicans for Justice, because it introduced a comprehensive sex-ed manual in some private homes that taught kids how to protect themselves from HIV if they engage in anal sex.
There is overwhelming evidence that the average age of sexual debut in Jamaica is 9 years old and many kids have anal sex as a way to prevent pregnancy and to preserve their virginity. However, thanks to misinformation spread by the churches, many kids do not use condoms as they believe only gay men contract HIV.
If anyone is interested in finding out what was so offensive in this manual, please see this link.
Among the more “damning” passages is the recommendation that persons use condoms during anal sex. HORROR!
Lisa Hanna, Jamaican minister of youth. (Photo courtesy of The Gleaner)
Lisa Hanna, Jamaican minister of youth. (Photo courtesy of The Gleaner)

In the midst of all this political pandering, the Minister of Youth has still failed to deliver on the promise she made last month that her ministry will develop programmes for homeless LGBT youth who have been forced to live in the sewers of Kingston and are selling sex to survive. These kids are paid extra for condomless sex by their often married clients, which increases their vulnerability to HIV. As government MP, Julian Robinson, recently stated in his Parliamentary address, the crisis facing these kids has been making local and international news for the past 2 years, with no concrete government response. The sex-ed manual made news this week and already the Minister plans to sue! Talk about screwed priorities.
Summer usually coincides with silly season and increased attacks against LGBT Jamaicans. This is shaping up to be more of the same.

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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