COMMENTARY: Jamaica’s anti-gay violence makes even funerals unsafe. As Jamaican churches keep spewing hatred, no place is safe for those even suspected of being gay. Even inside a church.
Recently two young Jamaicans were savagely attacked in church. The first was a pastor teaching a class and the other, a youngster, was attending his great-grandmother’s funeral. The pastor was shot dead in front of his students and the youth was brutalized by relatives who also attacked his visiting Jamaican-Canadian aunt for trying to defend him.
The public response to these assaults on “holy ground” has been telling. Instead of outrage at these sacrilegious deeds in our supposedly “Christian” nation, some members of society have blamed the victims. The murdered pastor was accused of wearing lip-balm in a professional photo, thus “proving” his homosexuality. The youth was chastised for daring to bring his male partner as emotional support to a funeral.
Jamaicans churches must bear the blame for these assaults on their pastor, property and parishioner. For years, some Jamaican clerics have taught that gays are biblical abominations deserving of God’s wrath. Their congregants were clearly paying attention. And so, the homophobic chickens have come home to roost. Now no place is safe for those even suspected of being gay. Even inside a church.
My dear mother is unwell, and I have already advised her that when the inevitable happens I will not be attending her funeral. We are very close, and I know that losing her will be very traumatic for me. So, I will need my husband’s support to survive that day. But, there is no way that I would willingly subject either of us to abuse or violence.
Mom attends a conservative Pentecostal church where the pastor regularly preaches anti-gay sermons. And even though she has been a faithful “pillar” of the congregation for decades she has not been spared hateful homophobic rhetoric. One pastor even told her that the reason she has not been healed is because she refuses to disown me. In a way I am “glad” that my mom is now too ill to continue attending that church.
The tragic fact is that many Jamaican churches are not safe places for people even suspected of being gay, or their family. Neither for them to teach nor to grieve.
- Religious bigots preyed on sick mom (Maurice Tomlinson’s letter to the wditor of The Gleaner, March 2017): “My mother has been a pillar of the Open Bible Church for many decades and now she is quite ill. I recently visited with her and she told me that a pastor said that God told him that the reason she hasn’t been healed is because she will not disown me, her gay son.”
- When a Pentecostal mom attends her gay son’s church (
- Dad, Mom and their gay Jamaican activist son (July 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Debate over Jamaica’s anti-gay law gets personal
- How Jamaican dad supports gay son’s activism
- Jamaican mother’s wisdom on coming out (September 2015, 76crimes.com)