The so-called “anti-sodomy law” in Jamaica has cast a destructive pall over the lives of gay Jamaicans. It has fed a homophobic society in which gays and lesbians are harassed, mocked, vilified, beaten and killed simply because of their sexual orientation. Driven underground, many fear that seeking an HIV test will brand them as homosexual, and therefore criminal. The national prevalence of HIV is over 30 percent among men who have sex with men, compared to a rate of 1.6 percent in the general population. The petition establishes clear ties between the country’s active promotion of discrimination and its AIDS epidemic. Tragically and unconscionably, the Government of Jamaica is determined to sustain its discriminatory legislation. The petition brought by AIDS-Free World makes clear that this law tramples on the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Jamaica is a party, and violates numerous guarantees contained in other international treaties that the country has signed and ratified. Jamaica’s law legitimizes abuses against homosexuals by state actors, including the police. It also encourages vigilante justice by private citizens, most of whom believe that the “anti-sodomy” law grants them permission to commit acts of violence against sexual minorities. Because the Government and its highest officials support and enable homophobia, the only possible way to end the persistent violation of the human rights of gay Jamaicans is to strike down the law as soon as possible and usher in an era of tolerance.
Meanwhile a more nervous sounding State Minister of Foreign Affairs Marlene Marlene Malahoo-Forte cautiously tackled the issue when asked by a television interviewer on October 31 she said among other things that the move by Britain is nothing new and changing laws by themselves is not the way to go. "We are sovereign nations and each country has to be allowed room to work out issues understandably countries with an interest on an issue will bring pressure to bear on others but we are a sovereign nation and we are committed to protect our people need to work out the issues, There are a number of ways that the matter can be addressed if it is a matter that can be dealt with bilaterally then we can begin through the diplomatic channels but the issue has to be addressed from many angles there are issues on the ground that would require the input of the Jamaican people .................. it doesn't matter how many laws we legislate we cannot legislate how people think, I think its time to invest more in educating our people I think that is the more appropriate starting point but it is also important for a discussion to b started in an earnest way to deal with the real problems that arise out of this issue."
Sadly the same mistake is made even by the learned that homosexuality is illegal and the reporter who did the interview with the minster also erred hence in my view whether consciously or not reinforce the very stigma we are trying to move away from.
Reactions in print have also been coming too with a tersely worded letter in today's Gleaner with the usual Leviticusal bashing:
THE EDITOR, Sir:
THE UNITED Kingdom stated that if we fail to change our buggery laws, then it will withdraw its financial aid. In a time of scarcity, we certainly need financial aid in order to ease the burden of the hard times faced by our people. However, being a Christian country, we will follow the principles of the Bible, in that righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to every man. Leviticus 18 vs 22 states, "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable". According to the principles of the Bible, buggery is detestable in the eyes of God. How can we ask Him in our anthem to bless our land and yet allow what is an abomination to be practised in our country? In the Bible, we see how Sodom was destroyed by God's mighty hand because of this detestable practice. In present time, we see how the mighty America is crawling on its knees because many of their practices are contrary to the word of God. We thank God for the role of the Church in our country.
I must say if it wasn't for the prayers of the saints, our country would have suffered the same fate as Sodom. We say 'to hell with United Kingdom'! We will not bow to their ungodly demands. Their financial aid will lead to people having AIDS. In our country, God comes first and in His holy scriptures it is clear that the righteous will never be forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. Jamaica. WE ARE ALREADY BLESSED. Andrew James
Seaforth, St Thomas
Jamaica should refuse British aid – Families Against State Terrorism convener ………………
Miss Sobers among other things said: “It might have been possible that some of those monies may have been earned by people who are gay, who to tell? perhaps we really ought not to take it if we are so concerned, on the other hand do we really need to be so involved with what happens in the bedrooms of consenting adults that it interferes with our ability to help our budget along? The people of this country can make that choice if they care so much about a law that cannot be enforced therefore is really useless.” She was speaking recently at a press briefing along side Lord Anthony Gifford to launch an action to challenge the law overseas via the Inter American Commission for Human Rights. Can it be that they have deliberately decided not to send anyone since the issue of homosexuality will be discussed? If so that’s very cowardly.
Of Commonwealth, Buggery Law And Ditching The Queen (Gleaner 02.11.11)
There is no doubt that the debate has just begun on this as the country reacts one hopes that we do not see a fallout in the community via reaction from anti gay persons resulting in homophobic violence as we have seen in recent years.
Peace and tolerance