Some Jamaicans have spoken out in favor of efforts to boycott Jamaican goods or music until leaders take serious action to reduce antigay vigilantism.
Perhaps most prominent among music-boycott supporters in 2008 was Gareth Henry, who was the co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, Allsexuals, and Gays until he was forced to flee the country for Canada last year. J-FLAG publicly expressed disagreement with the 2008 music boycott, but according to Xtra.ca, Henry said that JFLAG could not be seen to publicly support a boycott.
“They can’t be the ones to call for the boycott,” he says. “They can’t be that voice. But the gays, lesbians and queers on the ground are supportive of a boycott.”
Henry says he’s tried talking to the government.
“We have tried numerous approaches, numerous dialogues with government officials,” he says. “They have been non-responsive to the call. We have to hit people where it’s going to hurt, where they’ll feel it. In the Jamaican context talk is cheap. After 10 years of JFLAG’s existence what else can we do?”
[Addendum: Henry opposes the 2009 boycott of goods and tourism that is advocated by BoycottJamaica.org.]
Stop Murder Music Canada (SMMC) advocated a boycott last year of Jamaican musicians whose songs contain violently homophobic lyrics .
Xtra.ca reported that Canada’s reggae community was split on the issue.
Christian Lacoste, an openly gay Montreal reggae fan who runs the website Murder Inna Dancehall, supported both the music boycott and an official immigration ban on visits by homophobic dancehall artists. But Cezar Brumeanu, who runs the Montreal International Reggae Festival and that city’s House of Reggae nightclub, opposed a boycott.
This year, Jamaican blogger Dave, supports BoycottJamaica.org, a newer boycott of Jamaican goods and tourism. Dave — who is forced to remain anonymous to protect his safety — says:
This could potentially devastate my country during this global recession but this is basically the only thing I can do to improve my living conditions without putting myself in physical danger. Jamaica sucks when it comes to addressing LGBT issues and I am tired of living under these stupid conditions. Obviously, LGBT issues require much more attention Worldwide, even in the US, but Jamaica just refuses to even give us any basic rights. And they NEVER speak out against violence against gays. I don’t F-ing care how long it takes, just Boycott our asses and pass the word along.
The goals of BoycottJamaica.org are modest: There is no requirement that Jamaica affirm same-sex orientation or legalize same-sex intimacy. Instead, BoycottJamaica calls for Jamaican officials to publicly commit to ending antigay violence, and for the Prime Minister to clearly and unequivocally condemn antigay violence and express regret for past violence.
But they refuse. Until Jamaican leaders declare a halt to antigay vigilantism, boycotts appear to be the only way for North American LGBT people and their allies to tell Jamaica that they will no longer subsidize Jamaicans’ war against their gay neighbors and against basic human decency in exported music.
Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin