The homophobic drumbeat continues to flow from Jamaica. If you were reading some of the articles that appeared in Jamaican media last week you might have seen the following:
An April 22nd Jamaica Gleaner editorial column writer quoting a nameless Rastafarian leader he calls Soul Rebel defending reggae singers who have been targeted for their homophobia and sharing, among other things, this reasoning for Jamaican's hate of gays:
Listen man. They have sought with some measure of success to equate the civil rights and liberation movements for responsible freedom with their 'freedom', their devilish desire to 'make close contact with human waste matter'. And therein lies the real rub and nub of the matter, for it is this aspect of the practice that makes your average Jamaican see red.An April 25th Jamaica Gleaner article in which Jamaica's public defender (!!) is said to have asked gays in the island to abstain from "flaunting sexual preference may incite violence" arguing that it "may provoke a violent breach of the peace." "Tolerance has its limits," he added.
So, considering the abysmal recent record on human rights abuses and crimes against the LGBT community in the Caribbean island, is it really any surprise that reports surfaced on Friday about yet one more mob attack against a transgender woman in Falmouth? (and no, it's not the same as the mob attack that took place on February 14th in Montego Bay).
This time, though, the attack was captured on camera and, not surprisingly, posted on YouTube.
That hasn't stopped editorial writers from saying that Jamaica's "moral values" are under attack by international pro-gay political and economic forces as Newton Gabbidon wrote in yesterday's Jamaica Gleaner, two days after the attack . At least some churches seem to be coming around on the issue of violence against gays and HIV positive people.
Indeed, international human rights agencies and some within Jamaica have been calling for a government and public response against crimes such as these. And both local and international activism around these crimes has certainly forced the nation to have an unprecedented dialogue on issues related to LGBT rights and homophobia (hence this and this). These are seeds for change that should be nurtured and I hope that they do not get lost in the reaction to the latest developments.
Today, a few of us were made aware that the YouTube video had been uploaded, giving graphic proof of the violence that is taking place in the island. Among those who have blogged about it are Terrance Heath (cross-listed at Pam's Houseblend), j.brotherlove, J's Theatre, Emanuel Xavier, Taylor Siluwé, Keith Boykin, Jamyne Cannick and Kenyon Farrow.
And tonight I can say with certainty that enough is enough: What does it take for the Jamaican government to stand up for its own people instead of leaving it up to others to call for an immediate end to the spilling of Jamaican LGBT blood on Jamaican soil?
Let's hope that this will be the catalyst that will truly turn things around in Jamaica. I will keep you posted on reactions and hopefully it will lead to action. It would be a shame if this becomes just one in a very long list of incidents instead of the final straw that broke the camel's back.
- Editorial by the Jamaica Gleaner (May 1, 2007)