Tuesday, February 26, 2008
by Wayne Besen
Gay bashing in Jamaica is so prevalent that in 2006 Time Magazine wrote
an article about the island headlined, "The Most Homophobic Place On Earth?" The New York Times
this week showed that the anti-gay climate has only worsened, with the island caught in a downward spiral of outright psychosis. It is time to hand an ultimatum to Jamaica's public officials: Stop allowing rampant abuse of gay people or your economy will be crippled.
The Times story is downright chilling. It details how last month five gay men were having a dinner party when a mob appeared at the front door - kicking it in and attacking the men. While screaming homophobic epithets, between 15-20 thugs beat the victims senseless with sticks and cut them with machetes. One man is still missing, but police found blood at the mouth of a deep hole near the yard.
This was not an isolated incident. The Times went on to report a shocking attack on a gay man's funeral last year, where hooligans trashed the church with rocks and bottles as the service was in session. Of course, this unholy barbarism occurred in the name of God. Interestingly, Jamaicans have turned their sex-fueled island into a heterosexual bathhouse and ganja den, but seem to get sanctimonious and discover the Bible when it comes to homosexuality.
Prior to these incidents, two of the island's notable gay advocates, Steve Harvey and Brian Williamson, were murdered. Time Magazine reported that a crowd celebrated over Williamson's disfigured body. Time also recounted an incident in 2004 where a teen was nearly killed when his father learned his son was gay and urged a mob to lynch the boy at his school. In the same year, it was reported that police heartily cheered on another mob as it stabbed and stoned a gay man to death in Montego Bay. In 2006, a Kingston man drowned after a horde screaming "batty boy" (a Jamaican slur for gay people) chased him off a high dock.
On American docks, six hundred miles west of this homophobic hellhole, tourists regularly line up to board massive luxury liners destined for Jamaica. The tropical island earned
$2.1 billion from tourism in 2006, an increase of 24 percent over 2005. More than three million people visited Jamaica in 2006, with 1,025,000 arrivals from the United States.
Clearly, the answer to Jamaica's love affair with lynching is an aggressive campaign designed to put the clamp on tourism - particularly the cruise industry. The goal should be to strangle Jamaica's economy and force the island to change or suffer severe consequences. With tourism Jamaica's second largest source of revenue, such a campaign could have a powerful impact that achieves tangible results.
It appears that four major cruise lines are the main conduits in which people infuse Jamaica's economy with blood money. They are
Carnival, Costa, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. The ports where the ships leave are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral and Galveston.
It is imperative that one of the GLBT international groups or a major U.S. gay rights group create a campaign to shame these corporations and the passengers that travel on their ships. With so few ports, it would be relatively simple to call for a boycott and picket, while handing hand out informational flyers to cruisers. A "Boycott Jamaica" advertising campaign would greatly strengthen these actions. Billboards would need to be strategically placed along I-95 between Miami and Fort Lauderdale with the bold headline: "JA-MURDER."
Undoubtedly, there are many passengers with gay friends and family members who are unaware of Jamaica's sickening and immoral violence against GLBT people. Once informed, many individuals would opt to vacation elsewhere. There is no doubt that with a concerted effort, Jamaica could be brought to its knees.
To lift such a boycott, Jamaica would have to abolish its "buggery" law. Public officials would have to undergo sensitivity training. The police would be required to set up daily undercover stings - where officers would dress in stereotypically gay clothing and arrest would-be attackers. Finally, Jamaica's public officials would have to openly welcome gay and lesbian travelers and offer enthusiastic support for homosexuals living within the country.
It is time we stopped vacationing from our responsibility and started holding Jamaica and its corporate enablers accountable. Until anti-gay atrocities are no longer the norm, Jamaica must be seen as an international pariah, rather than the faux paradise it presents itself to the world.
My take on this is that everyman (woman included) is entitled to choice, that was given by God, however that doesn't mean that every time we choose we make the right choice - and that in the context of what is good for the world (since homosexual behaviour does not reproduce the species and according to Darwin would be removed by natural selection). I for one am not amused by anyone trying to force their choice down my throat. It is time the so-called gay community (for they seem very unhappy to me indeed) stop trying to force their choice down my throat (which is what this guy or girl or whatever it is wants to do) just in the same way that they don’t want us to 'force' our choice down theirs. I am not for killing and beating up on people but I also am against outsiders who are incapable of developing a decent society where they live coming along and trying to tell me how to run my own home and then threatening me on top of that. Let it be clear to outsiders that the death of the two Jamaicans, its clear to us here at home, was done by their own kind - 'WE HAVE DE TAPE!!!' There is no rampant killing of homosexuals here - as far as I can see Jamaica has become a lot more tolerant of homosexual behaviour recently (check our high schools, watch the girls on the street). What we ask here in Jamaica is the right to our own culture - we are not tolerant of overly affectionate behaviour by heterosexual couples, much less homosexual ones (in public). It doesn't matter if you are as straight as an arrow or as lean as they come. So OUTSIDERS LEAVE US ALONE. So why expect or even ask for special privileges? Let us deal with this and they go fight the sweat shops they have in Thailand, deal with the war in Iraq etc.
We are not sanctimonious about our ganja trade nor the level of crime in this country - heterosexuals are being killed too in case nobody noticed. We want to have a peaceful society to grow old in like anyone else. Give us space to learn and grow. In the meantime we will do what is best for us as Jamaicans and that includes preserving human life.
But yu know, as we say here - 'Duppy know who fi frighten!'- whey mek dis person nuh challenge one bigga country wid more money? A wi u see fi pick pan? Is aright! Ti day fi mi, tomorrow fi yuh!
That's my two cents. Let's keep the peace people.
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