Conservative Jamaican newspaper: Here’s why to repeal buggery law

The conservative Jamaican Observer has made a case for repealing the nation’s anti-buggery law and approving same-sex marriage.

USL professional soccer players Collin Martin (left), who was the target of an anti-gay slur, and Junior Flemmings (right) of Jamaica, who was suspended for making the slur. (Photos courtesy of the N.Y. Post)

In today’s editorial headlined “Time for Jamaicans to finally deal with thorny issues,” the newspaper stated:

Increasingly, countries like Jamaica which continue to effectively outlaw homosexuality by way of the buggery law are being seen as backward and flying in the face of basic human rights.

Regarding same-sex marriage, the editorial stated that the recent punishment imposed on a Jamaican football (soccer) player for his use of a homophobic slur “is a reminder for Jamaicans that the uncomfortable issues of same-sex unions and the outdated buggery law need to be dealt with.”

Jamaica’s Gleaner newspaper has long been opposed to the buggery law.

The Observer’s editorial came in response to the six-day suspension of Junior Flemmings by the USL (United Soccer League) for using a homophobic slur during a match last week between his Phoenix Rising team and the San Diego Loyal team. The Washington Post reported:

[Flemmings] directed the slur at Collin Martin, an openly gay player for the Loyal, during a Sept. 30 match. Although they were leading the match 3-1 when the incident occurred, San Diego players walked off the field in protest and forfeited. The incident occurred a week after the Loyal forfeited their 1-1 tie to the Los Angeles Galaxy II because San Diego’s Elijah Martin was called a racial slur. Although the Loyal did not walk off the pitch in that game, they decided then that they would stand for no more if another slur of any type occurred.

In an interview with Martin in the Washington Post:

Collin Martin said he had an extended exchange with Junior Flemmings, who then “called me a bati boy, which I knew, for a lack of a better word, meant ‘faggot.’ “

In its editorial, the Observer stated that:

Despite a denial by Mr Flemmings, he has been found guilty of a serious offence and, after being initially sent on administrative leave, is now suspended for the rest of the season.

Indeed, Mr Flemmings’s future as a professional footballer working overseas may be in jeopardy — at least for now.

For many Jamaicans, and indeed others across the Caribbean, the reaction to the alleged misdeed may seem over the top.

However, strong punitive action in response to perceived discrimination — not just in relation to race but also issues such as sexual inclination — are now par for the course, especially in North America and Europe.

Jamaican musical entertainers, among others accused of homophobia, have found this out at great cost in recent years. …

This recent incident involving Mr Flemmings tells us once more that the tide is changing and rising rapidly.

It’s time for the society to stop dithering on this and other controversial issues.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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