Jamaican cable TV blocks 'When We Rise' LGBT docudrama

Jamaican cable TV company FLOW blocks transmission of "When We Rise." (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Jamaican cable TV company FLOW blocks transmission of “When We Rise.” (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
One of Jamaica’s largest cable TV operators has blocked transmissions of the American LGBT rights historical drama “When We Rise.”

Ad for "When We Rise," the LGBT documentary series that customers of the Jamaican cable company Flow cannot see. (Photo courtesy of ABC)
Ad for “When We Rise,” the LGBT documentary series that customers of the Jamaican cable company Flow cannot see. (Photo courtesy of ABC)
"When We Rise" on ABC in the United States tells the story of the LGBT rights movement in the United States. Jamaica cable TV company Flow has refused to air it. (Photo courtesy of ABC)
“When We Rise” on ABC in the United States tells the story of the LGBT rights movement in the United States. Jamaica cable TV company Flow has refused to air it. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Jamaican cable companies routinely carry U.S. programming. Currently that programming includes the docudrama series “When We Rise,” airing on the ABC television network.

The series “chronicles the personal and political struggles, setbacks, and triumphs of a diverse group of LGBT individuals who helped pioneer an offshoot of the Civil Rights Movement from its infancy in the 20th century to the successes of today. The period piece tells the history of the modern gay rights movement, starting with the Stonewall riots in 1969.”

However, although Jamaican cable companies run U.S. programming, they have censored LGBT content. For example, they eventually censored “Queer as Folk” (2000-2005) and they edited out Sam Smith’s reference to his male partner during his Grammy acceptance speech in 2015.

Now, they have censored “When We Rise.”  See the screenshot above from Flow, one of the largest cable operators in the region, which is owned by Cable & Wireless out of the United Kingdom.

A comment from a Facebook friend says it all:

“We were just watching the first hour of WHEN WE RISE on ABC! ALL OF A SUDDEN APPARENTLY FLOW ENFORCED SOME CENSORSHIP SINCE THE PROGRAMME CLEARLY SHOWED THE STRUGGLE OF THE GAY COMMUNITY IN THE USA AGAINST THE HOMOPHOBIC POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT DURING THE MID 1970ES! Whaa a gwaan in Jamaica [What is happening in Jamaica]?! SHAME ON FLOW! Time for us to RISE UP!”

Scène de "L'amour et le respect" vidéo rejetée par les radiodiffuseurs jamaïcains. (Cliquez sur l'image pour voir la vidéo.)
“Love and Respect” video, rejected by Jamaican broadcasters. (Click the image to watch the video.)

As a side note, the Jamaican Court of Appeal has yet to rule on my challenge to two TV stations that refused to air a tolerance ad in which I appear that calls for respect for the rights of homosexuals.  The matter was heard in February 2016 and the decision is still pending.  I hope that the court doesn’t take as long as it did for Caleb Orozco when the Chief Justice of Belize took three years to deliver his ruling in the anti-sodomy law challenge.

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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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