Jamaica is a nation where antigay vigilantism is culturally accepted; authorities leave violence unpunished; and no GLBT organization can meet in public, hold events, or advocate publicly for justice and equality. In Jamaica, it takes courage to simply say “no” to violence.
Columnist Diane Abbott of The Jamaica Observer on Sunday wrote a column citing numerous recent reports of antigay murder and vigilantism. She warned that public denial of the severity of such violence harms Jamaica’s reputation.
Because attitudes to homosexuality in Jamaica are so hostile, it is not sufficiently understood how damaging its stand on the issue is outside the country.
A U.S.-based, pro-equality boycott against Jamaica was put on hold earlier this year when J-FLAG, Jamaica’s GLBT organization-in-hiding, withheld its support.
Nevertheless, Abbott says Jamaicans should learn from the boycott and from numerous reports of antigay violence:
The boycott has so far been unsuccessful. But a country dependent on tourism cannot afford to ignore the fact that attitudes to homosexuality in other countries have moved on. There are probably as many people in Britain who are privately judgemental about homosexuals and lesbians as there are in Jamaica. But the British take the view that what people do in the bedroom is their affair. So gay marriage is legal and leading politicians in both the government and opposition parties have publicly acknowledged their sexual orientation and married their partners. It is difficult to imagine such a state of affairs coming about in Jamaica any time soon.
But Jamaica could do more to stress that despite the blood-curdling lyrics of much of its popular music, it is a more tolerant society than people think. And violence against gay people should be universally condemned.