Journalist Keiran King comments on how homophobia is now part of Jamaica’s “global brand.” Referencing the recent Slate article, “Don’t Blame Yesterday’s Colonialism for Today’s Homophobia,” King writes about how the country has joined the ranks of the worst offenders of human rights and highlights religion as one of the factors contributing to ongoing prejudice. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:
Religions are natural hosts for the virus of discrimination, since by definition they divide people into two camps—believer and non-believer, disciple and heathen, the chosen and the damned. Inevitably, whoever has the power gets to decide who’s good and who’s evil. In Jamaica, that’s the fundamentalist Christian churches, subsidised and guided by their American counterparts. These hard-line denominations [. . .] focus on baptism, an individual relationship with God, the infallibility of the Bible—and the sin of homosexuality.
Seen in that context, the deleterious climate for gay rights is hardly surprising. More unexpected is that the perpetrators of prejudice have developed a fetish for cross-dressing as its victims. Mark Wignall, Alfred Sangster and many others continue to conjure the bogeyman of ‘the gay agenda’ — an imaginary conspiracy of powerful homosexuals lurking in the shadows, bent on unravelling the moral fabric of our wholesome, family-based society with their deviant practices.
Let’s start with the obvious. Heterosexuals control every sphere of influence in Jamaica. The prime minister is a heterosexual. The leader of the Opposition is a heterosexual. The minister of national security is a heterosexual par excellence. So, too, the minister of culture, the minister of finance, the director of public prosecutions, the chief justice, the just-retired commissioner of police, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the vice-chancellor of the UWI, the general manager of TVJ, the CEO of Digicel, the CEO of GraceKennedy, the CEO of Sagicor, the managing director of Wisynco, and whoever else runs our little republic. Okay?
[. . .] What would our beloved capital city look like? Probably a lot like San Francisco — a city of roughly a million souls, with a large natural bay, a 19th-century newspaper, vibrant art and the highest gay population, by percentage, of any American city (an admirable 15 per cent). Sadly for evangelicals, though, San Francisco also has the fastest-growing economy in the US, is a global centre of innovation, finance and technology, and would be as rich as Sweden if it were listed as a country. To top it off, it recovered from the global recession faster than anywhere else. If that’s hell on earth, I’d like to fit my horns and pitchfork now, please.
But maybe you think no amount of material wealth can offset the immorality of homosexuality. Fine, let’s trade a large-scale experiment for a small-scale one. What if we took a regular God-fearing Jamaican, some Mr Williams or Mr Brown, and gave him a gay child? Would the reality of knowing and loving the person cause a more balanced outlook? Let’s raise the stakes and make it a clergyman. Better yet, from the most pious town in Jamaica. How about then? No need for sorcery. Here’s Pastor Browne from Mandeville earlier this week: “My daughter’s sexuality has not changed anything about her; she is still just as ambitious and intelligent and still has the same dreams and hopes as any other young woman. Gay Jamaicans do not want anything but the right to live, work and spend time with their loved ones.”
For full article, see http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140716/cleisure/cleisure3.html